Chance to watch rare Mercury transit from Singapore sky tonight

James Marshall
November 11, 2019

Mercury will make a rare march across the sun in the early morning hours of Monday.

The transit will begin at 6:35AM CST / 7:35AM EST, though some people will be forced to wait for the Sun to rise in their time zone before they can see it; in these cases, the transit won't be visible until after it has already started. Astronomy broadcaster Slooh will be sharing the live event on its YouTube page.

Mercury's tiny disk, jet black and perfectly round, covers a tiny fraction of the sun's blinding surface - only 1/283 of the sun's apparent diametre.

Transit of Mercury occurs about 13 -15 times in a century, and will not again occur until November 2032 adding it usually happens during May and November months.

Scientists have used these events for hundreds of years to study the way planets and stars move in space. As the orbit of Mercury around the Sun is tilted compared with the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, the planet normally appears to pass above or below our nearest star.

For aficionados who do not have the equipment to view the phenomenon, it will be broadcast live around the world by NASA TV.

It is extremely risky to look directly at the sun through instrument eyepieces because concentrated solar rays can damage your eyes instantly and even blind you. But if you're in the USA, you absolutely shouldn't miss it as this is the last time Mercury's transit will be visible from the U.S. until 2049.

Observers with access to a moderate-sized telescope with an appropriate safe filter should be able to see Mercury as a dark disc, comparable in apparent size to a sunspot, but somewhat darker. The transit ends at 11:04 a.m., when Mercury finishes crossing the sun and disappears from view. Visit mercurytransit.gsfc.nasa.gov to tune in.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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