I took this photo during Mercury’s last transit on May 9, 2016 with a 3-inch refracting telescope at 27x. While there are currently no sunspots, if any appear during the upcoming transit, compare their dark interiors — called umbrae — with the pitch blackness of Mercury’s diminutive disk. Bob King
On Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, you can see the littlest planet pass directly in front of the sun. The event is called a transit, and they’re fairly rare. Mercury transits the sun about 13 times a century. What makes this event unique at least for North America is that we won’t see it happen again for almost 30 years — the next transit happens on May 7, 2049.
Additional transits occur in 2032 and 2039 but they’re visible from other parts of the planet. The sun won’t be up during those times for the U.S. You know what that means — don’t miss this one! Given my current age, Monday’s event will likely be the last of my lifetime. Astronomical prediction can sting like that, but it comes with the territory.
Mercury’s orbit is tilted 7° with respect to the plane of Earth’s orbit. Transits only occur when the ...