On Monday, May 9, 2016, the innermost planet Mercury will pass between the Earth and Sun making it possible for us to directly observe the black silhouette of the planet moving across the bright face of our favorite star. This is called a Transit of Mercury. The last Mercury transit took place in 2006.
Weather permitting from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM, Cernan and Naperville Astronomy Association member Bill Benesch and others will set up their specially equipped solar telescopes to provide views of this unique event. In the Planetarium, simple demonstrations will be available to illustrate why transits don’t happen more frequently.
Unlike the Transit of Venus back in 2012, Mercury is too small to be observed through solar eclipse glasses. We will try our Sunspotter folded solar telescope to see if it can show the transit, but we are certain the larger telescopes will reveal the planet – weather permitting, of course. The next transit of Mercury will occur on November 11, 2019.
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