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A rare celestial event visible this month

A photo of Mercury transiting the sun on Nov. 8, 2006. The small dot lower right of centre isn't as conspicuous as a sunspot on the left side of the sun.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Earthsky.org
November 02, 2019 - 7:00 AM

With the right help, you may be able to see the fairly rare occurrence of Mercury making its way across the sun.

A transit of Mercury is happening Nov. 11, which means  Mercury will be passing directly between the sun and another planet, becoming visible against the solar disk as a tiny black dot.

Mercury is the innermost planet in the solar system and has a diameter of only 1/194 of that of the sun when seen from Earth.

That means the planet will only be visible with a telescope as it crosses the sun’s face over a 5 1/2 hour period on Nov. 11.

It’s a relatively rare event that happens only 13 times per century, last occurring in 2016.

The transit begins at 4:36 a.m. Pacific time and will reach the sun’s centre around 7:20 a.m., so residents of Kamloops and the Okanagan will be able to see the eclipse already in progress after sunrise.

EarthSky.org advised those who are not skilled in the use of telescopes or solar filters to seek out a public program through a local observatory or astronomy club to view the transit.

See the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Okanagan Centre website for information on local opportunities to observe this astronomical event.

Observers should never look directly at the sun with the naked eye.


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