Our cosmic neighbor Mercury is the edge of the solar system; it is not much larger than the moon and is so difficult to see that it is known as the "elusive planet". But we are about to get a rare and spectacular view of the tiny world as it sails through the sun at an event known as transit.
On Monday (November 11th), Mercury will pass between Earth and the sun. Because the planet is so tiny and so close to the sun, it does not block out the sunlight as the moon does during the eclipse. Rather, Mercury will be visible from Earth as a weeping silhouette outlined in a vast, luminous, sunny background, according to NASA .
Here on Earth, we will be able to watch the black spot move slowly through the sun, a view that only appears 1
Related: Gorgeous new mercury maps show the astounding features of the planet when the sun rises west of the Rocky Mountains. Mercury will travel in the middle of the sun at about 11:20 EST. Transit will take about 5.5 hours from start to finish, ending at 1:04 AM EST according to NASA .
If the sky is clear, transit will be visible from most of North America; parts of Europe, Asia and Antarctica; and all over South America and Africa, the site of the sister to Live Science Space.com reports .
A telescope or binocular is needed to spot a small, fast-moving planet. However, any direct-sun vision device must be fitted with protective solar filters to prevent serious eye damage . Disposable goggles should never be used with binoculars and telescopes; magnifiers increase the destructive power of sunlight and can blur obscure filters on eclipse glasses, as shown in a video shared on YouTube in 2017 by journalist and photographer Vince Patton.
The last Mercury transit was made in 2016, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured unprecedented higher resolution images of the event Than ever. But transit is not just an inspiring spectacle; it also has scientific significance. When Mercury is located directly in front of the sun for hours at a distance, researchers are able to study the planet's exosphere, a very thin atmosphere of gases, to determine their distribution and density, said NASA scientist Rosemary Kielen .
"Sodium in the exosphere absorbs and extracts the yellow-orange color from sunlight, and by measuring this absorption we can learn about the density of gas there," says Kilon.
To find out more about Mercury transit on Monday and where you can watch it, including live network views on Transit Day, visit Space.com .
Originally published on by Live Science .