On Mon­day, Novem­ber 11, the plan­et Mer­cury will pass direct­ly between Earth and the Sun in an event that won’t hap­pen again for anoth­er thir­teen years. Dur­ing this tran­sit, Mer­cury will be vis­i­ble as a tiny pin­prick of dark­ness against the Sun’s sur­face.

This tran­sit will start at 7:35 AM ET and will last for about five and a half hours, giv­ing peo­ple plen­ty of time to check in on the planet’s progress. Weath­er per­mit­ting, peo­ple in South Amer­i­ca and east­ern North Amer­i­ca will have the best view of the entire tran­sit, but oth­er parts of the world, includ­ing west­ern North Amer­i­ca, Europe and Africa will be able to catch up on at least part of the action.

If you do want to enjoy the show, please remem­ber that look­ing direct­ly at the Sun is very dan­ger­ous. Also, unlike a solar eclipse, you prob­a­bly won’t be able to see any­thing your­self with­out spe­cial­ized equip­ment — and your left­over eclipse glass­es don’t count. As NASA notes on a post about the tran­sit: “even with solar view­ing glass­es, Mer­cury is too small to be eas­i­ly seen with the unaid­ed eye.” You’ll need a tele­scope or binoc­u­lars out­fit­ted with a spe­cial solar fil­ter to watch the tran­sit as it hap­pens.

If you don’t have a solar fil­ter equipped tele­scope, or a local astron­o­my club or obser­va­to­ry near­by, you can still watch the fun. Slooh will have a live stream of the event start­ing around 7:30 AM ET. NASA’s Solar Dynam­ics Obser­va­to­ry will also be track­ing the event, and will be upload­ing images of the event as it hap­pens.


The last time Mer­cury tran­sit­ed the Sun was in May 2016, when astronomers man­aged to cap­ture some incred­i­bly crisp footage — and gor­geous pic­tures— of the event.

This par­tic­u­lar event is a big deal for astron­o­my enthu­si­asts. Mer­cury won’t make anoth­er tran­sit until 2032, when it will be view­able in most of Asia, Europe, Africa, Aus­tralia, and South Amer­i­ca. Peo­ple in North Amer­i­ca will have an even longer wait — the next Mer­cury tran­sit vis­i­ble there won’t hap­pen until 2049.


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