Mercury will cross the sun’s face next Monday (May 9) in a rare “transit” that will be visible from most places on Earth, weather permitting. This astrological event occurs about 13 times every century. Its last trek taking place in 2006. Due to its diminutive size, viewing this event safely requires a telescope or high-powered binoculars fitted with solar filters made of specially-coated glass or Mylar.
NASA is offering several avenues for the public to view the event without specialized and costly equipment, including images on NASA.gov, a one-hour NASA Television special, and social media coverage.
Mercury will appear as a small black dot as it crosses the edge of the sun and into view at 7:12 a.m. The planet will make a leisurely journey across the face of the sun, reaching mid-point at approximately 10:47 a.m., and exiting the golden disk at 2:42 p.m. The entire 7.5-hour path across the sun will be visible across the Eastern United States – with magnification and proper solar filters – while those in the West can observe the transit in progress after sunrise.
The Mercury transit begins just after 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) and ends just before 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). On the West Coast, it begins at sunrise and ends around 11:30 PDT (0230 EDT; 0630 GMT on May 10). The exact times at any given location will vary a bit, but a planetarium software program like Starry Night or SkySafari will give the exact times for your location.