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How to watch Mercury transit the sun Monday

You'll need magnification and protective eyewear

Image taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory of Mercury transiting the sun on Nov. 11, 2019. (Image: NASA)

Mercury will parade across the sun Monday, putting on a celestial show for most of Earth. But to see it you’ll need a little help.

The event is known as a transit, when a planet crosses the sun. The next Mercury transit won’t happen until 2032.

“The happens maybe once a decade, maybe even less than that,” said Saida Caballero-Nieves, director of Florida Institute of Technology Olin Observatory in Melbourne.


What to expect

Over the course of about five and a half hours, Mercury will take a diagonal path left to right across the sun, entering at bottom left and exiting top right.

On Earth, Mercury’s journey will look very slow, but the planet is actually moving about 150,000 mph.

News 6 meteorologist Johnathan Kegges explained the transit timeline in detail here.

How to see it

Because Mercury is so small -- a little more than one-third the width of Earth -- you won't be able to see the transit without a telescope, binoculars or a nice zoom camera lens.

"With powerful enough binoculars you should be you would be able to also see the transit, but you still need some sort of magnification because mercury appears to be about 200 times smaller than the sun," Caballero-Nieves said.

NASA will be sharing views from the Solar Dynamics Observatory throughout the transit. Click here for the latest images and video.

Also, never look directly at the sun without protective eyewear. If you kept those solar eclipse glasses, those will work or leave it to the experts.

Florida Tech, Seminole State College, University of Central Florida and the Orlando Science Center are all hosting Mercury transit viewing events with telescopes equipped with solar lenses.

Find a list of Mercury transit viewing events below:

Florida Tech Olin Observatory

What: Public viewing of the transit with telescopes at the Olin Observatory
When: 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: 150 W University Blvd., Melbourne, FL 32901
Cost: Free

Seminole State College
What: Emil Buehler Planetarium staff and the members of the Central Florida Astronomical Society will offer safe solar telescope viewing at the patio of the E. Ann McGee Student Center.
Where: Emil Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College
100 Weldon Blvd, Sanford, Florida 32773
When: 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
Click here for more information.

Orlando Science Center
What: Sun safe telescopes set up with experts to assist.
When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: 777 E. Princeton St. | Orlando
Cost: Viewing Mercury’s transit is included with daily general admission to Orlando Science Center, which is free for members, $21 for adults, $19 for seniors and students and $15 for youth (ages 2 – 11).
Click here for more information.

University of Central Florida
What: Safe solar viewing at Knights Plaza hosted by the UCF Library and the Robinson Observatory.
When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Knights Plaza
Cost: Free


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