Monday will be a delight for space enthusiast and star gazers as a rare celestial event will occur where Mercury will pass in front of Sun. The Mercury transit will occur from 7:30 am til 10:42 am according to time in Calfornia. Event on May 9 is so rare that it occurs only 14 times in the century and next transit will take place in November 2019.
Transit is a phenomenon where one celestial body comes in front of the other body and passes by when seen from the Earth or from a spacecraft. The rare Mercury transit will be visible from nearly all parts of the Earth including — Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica. However, it will not be visible in Japan and other parts of eastern Asia.
Scientists from UCLA`s Institute for Planet and Exoplanets will offer free view of the transit where Mercury will appear as a small black ball crossing the Sun. People in California can see the transit from 7:30 am til 10:42 am.
Indians will be able to see the Mercury surpassing the Sun at about 4:30 pm, revealed Astronomical Society of India (ASI). Solar system’s smallest planet will take couple of hours to cover quarter of its path. After 6:30 pm IST, people in India will not be able to see the remaining transit due to the sunset.
Since Mercury is very small when compared to the Sun, viewing it with naked eyes will not be possible and interested people need telescopes to view the small black disk. In addition, viewing directly towards Sun can be harmful thus, you need special types of telescopes or binoculars to witness the event.
Mercury transit is a very rare phenomenon and it will occur just 14 times in the 21st century. Students and space enthusiast are very excited to view the transit but make sure to take proper precautions as viewing directly towards the sun can cause permanent blindness.
NASA scientists Dean Pesnell said,”It’s like getting a cataract – you see stars or halos around bright lights as though you are looking through a misty windshield.”