Mercury to pass in front of the Sun for last time in 33 years this month

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Mercury will pass in front of the Sun on November 11 - giving astronomers last chance to glimpse rare celestial event for 33 years This rare celestial event only happens about 13 times per century Mercury will visible as a tiny dot - about 0.5 per cent of the diameter of the Sun  The next transit of Mercury will be in 2032

By Sophie Curtis For Mailonline

Published: 17:23 GMT, 1 November 2019 | Updated: 17:23 GMT, 1 November 2019

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Astronomers are in for a rare treat next week, when the planet Mercury passes across the face of the Sun.

This rare celestial event only happens about 13 times per century, so you won't get another chance to see it until 2032 - 33 years from now.

The transit of Mercury happens because it is one of only two planets in our solar system that orbit the sun closer than Earth - the other one being Venus.

On most of its orbits, Mercury passes above or below the Sun as seen from Earth. 

Occasionally, however, the orbits of Earth and Mercury line up in such a way that Mercury passes directly between the Earth and the Sun.

The solar system's smallest, innermost planet will resemble a black round dot (pictured) as it passes in front of our big, bright star on 9 May. The last time Mercury crossed directly between the Earth and sun was in 2016, and it won't happen again until 2032

The solar system's smallest, innermost planet will resemble a black round dot (pictured) as it passes in front of our big, bright star on 9 May. The last time Mercury crossed directly between the Earth and sun was in 2016, and it won't happen again until 2032

When this happens, Mercury is visible from Earth as a tiny dot - about 0.5 per cent of the diameter of the sun itself. 

'The sky will put on a stellar show on November 11, 2019, as Mercury crosses in front of the Sun,' said NASA.

'From our perspective on Earth, we can only ever see Mercury and Venus cross in front of, or transit, the Sun, so it's a rare event you won't want to miss!'

With the right safety equipment, viewers nearly everywhere on Earth will be able to see the tiny dark spot moving slowly across the disk of the Sun. 

Mercury transits always occur in either May or November, with the latter being more frequent. The fact that it doesn't happen every time Mercury orbits the sun - which only takes 88 days - serves to illustrate that the planets don't all lie in exactly the same plane. A composite of the planet passing the sun in 2006 is shown

Mercury transits always occur in either May or November, with the latter being more frequent. The fact that it doesn't happen every time Mercury orbits the sun - which only takes 88 days - serves to illustrate that the planets don't all lie in exactly the same plane. A composite of the planet passing the sun in 2006 is shown

Mercury is the innermost planet of the solar system (pictured).  With the right safety equipment, viewers nearly everywhere on Earth will be able to see the tiny dark spot moving slowly across the disk of the Sun

Mercury is the innermost planet of the solar system

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