We have a special event this year, and it is all Earth’s doing. Astronomy enthusiasts will be happy to hear that they can catch a glimpse of Mercury on the 9th of May 2016. This is a rare event, taking place approximately 13 times in the course of 100 years, so be sure not to miss it.
Mercury is also the planet with the first ever documented observation, Pierre Gassendi noting its transit in the year 1631. Ever since, astronomers have been monitoring it, hoping to further observe this rare to sight planet.
But the good news doesn’t end here, because skywatchers all across the Globe can enjoy this natural wonder, as it will be visible everywhere on Earth. It might just be partially in some areas of the world, but some will have the opportunity of fully seeing Mercury. Even though such transits succor in November as well, it is in May that Mercury appears the largest to the people watching its crossing from the surface of the Earth.
But how can we watch this event, you might ask? Simple, we say. You just need binoculars or, better yet, a telescope. What you need to be careful about is not looking straight at the sky without proper protection, because it can damage the eyes and can even lead to blindness.
You will see the Planet in its five stages. The first stage starts at 1112:19 GMT, the edge of Mercury touching the edge of the Sun. The second stage starts at 1115:31 GMT, Mercury’s disc lying inward the Sun. The third starts at 1457:26 GMT, when Mercury will be crossing the Sun, reaching its center. Finally, at stage four, at 1839:14 GMT, the exterior edge of Mercury will touch the exterior edge of the Sun. The final stage, taking place at 1842:26 GMT, will find the Sun’s outer edge touched by the inner edge of Mercury.
Check out your local Observatory and astronomy groups to find out if there are special events being held with this occasion. Gatherings like these offer skywatchers the possibility to observe the passing of the planets using more professional instruments or simply give enthusiasts the possibility to interact with people who share the same passion.
IMAGE SOURCE: Wikipedia