See Mercury glide across the sun in rare sky show

See Mercury glide across the sun in rare sky show

Within our own solar system, we only see transits of Venus and Mercury transits, since those are the only planets between us and the sun. That includes the East Coast of North America, as well as South America, western Europe, and far-western Africa.

From anywhere in the country where skies are clear, Mercury can be seen crossing the sun with binoculars or a telescope.

Every 88 years Mercury completes each orbit around the sun, and passes between the Earth and sun every 116 days. Many local astronomy clubs will provide the public with the opportunity to see the transit using specialized, properly-filtered solar telescopes. Eastern, traversing the sun's face for more than five hours before exiting about 1:05 p.m.

While the next transit of Mercury may be in 2032, Boyd said people living in the USA won't have an opportunity to see it again until 2049.

Venus transits are much rarer.

One interesting sight to watch for during a transit is the so-called black drop effect, an optical illusion that happens when the planet either just enters or starts to leave the sun's disk.

"Transits are a visible demonstration of how the planets move around the sun, and everyone with access to the right equipment should take a look", Mike Cruise, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, said in a statement from England.

Because the planet's orbit around the Sun is tilted, it normally appears to pass above or below our nearest star.

Liberty Science Center in Jersey City is hosting a special event with a telescope set up for people to view the "Mercury transit".

It's this kind of transit that allows scientists to discover alien worlds.

Even if you are clouded out, in the wrong place, or don't have the right gear, this transit can be enjoyed worldwide via live webcasts that will showcase the entire event. Periodic, fleeting dips of starlight indicate an orbiting planet.

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