The Transit of Mercury is happening on May 9, sending stargazers to their telescopes to watch this rare event! If you want to know why space-enthusiasts are celebrating, here are 5 things to know about the Transit of Mercury.
You don’t have to be astrophysics superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson, 57, to be excited for the Transit of Mercury, as fans of stars and planets everywhere are thrilled that this day has finally arrived! If you are curious why some people are going out-of-their-minds for this out-of-this-world event, learn more about the Transit of Mercury.
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1. The Transit of Mercury is…exactly that.
While something called “The Transit of Mercury” almost sounds like it came out an episode of Game of Thrones, the title is pretty self-explanatory. The planet Mercury comes between the Sun and the Earth on May 9, 2016. In fact, it can be seen as a small, black dot traveling across the star in the sky. Just look up!
2. It’s over in less than 8 hours — so you better look soon!
The trip takes about 7.5 hours, according to Vox, and Mercury began its voyage at 7:12 A.M. EST. Most people in Europe and North America will be able to see the galactic event by looking through a telescope or binoculars (remember to use a solar filter before you do. Never look directly at the Sun.) For those dealing with cloudy weather, you can watch the transit online right here.
3. If you miss it, you’ll get another chance in a few years.
This is the first Transit of Mercury in a decade, according to The Guardian. In order for this to happen, the Sun, the Earth and Mercury need to line up directly, but Mercury’s orbit is often too high or too low to make it work. So much drama, Mercury. So, at most, there are usually 13 or 14 Transits of Mercury in 100 years! Thankfully, the next one won’t be that far away as it’ll take place in 2019.
4. It’s a major event in the scientific community.
So, why is this so important? Well, scientists use this event as an opportunity to study Mercury and space itself. Scientists can “make more precise measurements” of the small planet, David Rothery, a planetary geoscientist at Open University in the United Kingdom, told Space.com. For example, during this event, scientists in California will also try to glimpse the levels of sodium in the planet’s thin atmosphere. Amazing!
5. The Transit of Mercury actually makes the Sun a little less bright!
When Mercury makes it pass in front of the Sun, it causes a slight dip in brightness, according to Vox. Astronomers realize that they can look for similar dimming of other stars to detect orbiting planets. Hopefully, this leads to the discovery of another Earth-like planet!
Are you excited for the Transit of Mercury, HollywoodLifers?