Skip directly to content

View Mercury Transit From Overlook Park Monday

on November 8, 2019 - 7:16pm
Composite time-series image of a past Mercury Transit. Courtesy/NASA.
 
By JOYCE A. GUZIK
For the Pajarito Astronomers

The Pajarito Astronomers is offering the community an opportunity to view the Transit of Mercury Monday morning, Nov 11, at Overlook Park in White Rock.

Mercury transits are rare events in which the planet Mercury passes directly in front of the Sun as seen from Earth. The planet appears as a tiny black dot, only 13 arc seconds in size, against the face of the Sun.  The human eye cannot resolve objects smaller than 50 arc seconds across – smaller than about 1/40th the diameter of the Sun or Moon.

The transit will be in progress when a telescope will be set up for viewing the Sun and Mercury through a solar filter at 8:30 a.m. in the parking area near Overlook Park’s Paul Spirio soccer field. The transit ends at 11:04 a.m.

NOTE: Viewers are cautioned to never look at the Sun directly as doing so will result in vision damage! 
 
Viewing a Mercury transit is not the same experience as viewing a solar eclipse like the one that occurred in the US in August 2017. Mercury is too small to be seen through solar eclipse glasses or hand-held solar filters, and is also too small to be seen via the pinhole projection method that is often used to view solar eclipses.

The transit can be viewed safely through a telescope with magnification using the proper solar filter as will be set up at Overlook Park. This transit will be the last one visible from New Mexico until the year 2049.

Contact Joyce Guzik (joyceannguzik@gmail.com) with questions or for more information.

Note: The Los Alamos High School Astronomy Club (contact Debbie Grothaus, d.grothaus@laschools.net) also invites the public to join them to watch the transit through telescopes with solar filters from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the LAHS courtyard between the main building and E-wing. The Astronomy Club will be coordinating with other groups from around the country in order to share information and measure the size of the astronomical unit, the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, using triangulation and trigonometry. LAHS science teachers will be offering extra credit for students who attend.


Advertisements