A rare astronomical event known as the Transit of Mercury will occur on November 11, 2019.
The event, known as a transit, occurs when Mercury passes directly between Earth and the Sun.
To viewers on Earth, Mercury will look like a tiny black dot traveling across the Sun’s face.
This only happens about 13 times a century, so it’s a rare event that skywatchers won’t want to miss!
Mercury’s last transit was in 2016. The next won’t happen again until 2032.
“Viewing transits and eclipses provide opportunities to engage the public, to encourage one and all to experience the wonders of the universe and to appreciate how precisely science and mathematics can predict celestial events,” said Mitzi Adams, a solar scientist in the Heliophysics and Planetary Science Branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Of course, safely viewing the Sun is one of my favorite things to do.”
This year’s transit will be widely visible from most of Earth, including the Americas, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, New Zealand, Europe, Africa, and western Asia.
It starts at about 7:35 a.m. EST, but viewers in some areas, such as the U.S. West Coast, will have to wait until the Sun rises at their location to see the transit already in progress.
Thankfully, this transit will last almost six hours, so there will be plenty of time to catch the show.
At about 10:20 a.m. EST, Mercury’s center will be as close as it is going to get to the Sun’s.
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 diameter.
Because Mercury is so small from our perspective on Earth, you’ll need binoculars or a telescope with a certified Sun filter to see it.
WARNING! Never look at the Sun directly or through a telescope without proper protection. It can lead to serious and permanent vision damage. Always use a safe Sun filter to protect your eyes!