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Mark your calendars: Celestial event of the year Nov. 11

Transit of Mercury visible in Central Florida pending weather

ORLANDO, Fla.- – You are going to need some help to see the transit of Mercury, but this celestial event is arguably the highlight of the sky-watching year. A transit is just like an eclipse -- the planet, in this case Mercury, will pass in front of the sun. As it does, Mercury will appear as a tiny black dot moving across the surface of the sun.

How To View:

NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. SPECIAL GLASSES OR A FILTER WILL BE NEEDED TO VIEW.

Just like the solar eclipse in 2017, special glasses or filters will be required to view the transit. Since Mercury is so small, however, you will also need binoculars or a telescope to view. Use extreme caution when using magnification to look at the sun. If using binoculars or a telescope, make sure the proper solar film is installed on the front lens, not the eyepiece, for safe viewing. An even safer way to view the sun is to project the image onto something. Ways to view the sun safely can be found here.

WHEN:

The images below are not to scale. The clouds and rain forecast to the right are for the start, peak and end of  the transit.

Nov. 11

Start of full transit: 7:37 a.m.

End of full transit: 1:02 p.m. 

The further inland you are, the better chance you will have to avoid clouds and a stray shower. 

Viewing event

Since they don't happen often and transits are important in astronomy, the Orlando Science Center is hosting a Mercury Transit event in its observatory Monday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

During the event, staff members will hold demonstrations and short presentations for guests to learn more about transits and exoplanets. A big telescope will also be set up with a Hydrogen-Alpha solar filter, which allows gazers to see details a normal solar filter can’t pick up. 

Click here to learn more about the event.

The next transit of Mercury will occur in November 2032. Venus is the only other planet to transit as Venus and Mercury are between the sun and Earth.


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