Vienna – With the so-called "Mercury Transit", the Sky Spectacle of the Year takes place on 11 November: The planet Mercury will pass by the sun's disk at 1:35 pm. However, because the celestial body is relatively small and relatively far away from the earth, you can watch the rare event – provided good weather – only with well-protected telescopes.
Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun and only needs 88 days to travel around the Sun (Earth: 365 days). About every 116 days he stands between the sun and the earth. However, the fact that it actually passes right in front of the solar disk when viewed from the Earth is only 13 to 14 times per century – and always only in May or November, said Alexander Pikhard of the Vienna Association for Astronomy (WAA).
Next Merkurtransit until 2032 again
On November 11, 2019, it will be time again. The last time such a Merkurtransit 2016 was to see, the next takes place again in 2032.
The spectacle starts in Vienna at 13.35. For several hours, the tiny black disk of the smallest planet in the solar system then wanders over the sun – almost as a micro-solar eclipse. About halfway through the transit the sun sets at 16.22.
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To see the Mercury transit, clear view to the southwestern horizon is required, ideal is the observation of a raised point or in the plains.
Was the disc of Venus at the "Venus transit" in 2012 – protected with solar eclipse glasses or special protective film – to see with the naked eye, you can observe the Mercury Transit only with the telescope, which must also be equipped with special solar filters. For Mercury is only one-third as large, but twice as far from Earth as Venus.
Observatories provide the opportunity for observation
Throughout Austria, observatories offer the opportunity to observe the sky spectacle. On a clear view of the sky, members of the Vienna Association for Astronomy will be taking their telescopes to the Sophienalpe in Vienna-Penzing at 11:00 pm on November 11, inviting guests to take part in the observing. (APA)