Transit of Mercury

A transit of Mercury as captured by Japan’s Hinode spacecraft in 2006. (Credit: JAXA/NASA/PPARC)

On November 11th 2019, the planet Mercury will pass in front of the Sun from the point of view of Earth. This phenomenon, called the transit of Mercury, is akin to the transit of exoplanets in front of their host stars which allow them to be detected by telescoped such as Kepler and TESS. From Earth, we can only view the transits of Mercury and Venus across the Sun as they are inside our own orbit. Unlike the transit of Venus which is visible by simply using eclipse glasses, solar telescopes are necessary to observe a transit of Mercury. This is due to Venus being both larger and closer to the Earth than Mercury.

(Credit: Espace pour la vie)

The first ever observed transit of Mercury was in 1631. These transits occur on a relatively regular basis, but the next one won’t be until 2032. Even worse, the next one visible from Montreal won’t be until 2049!

If you are interested in observing this year’s Transit of Mercury, the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan de Montréal will be hosting a viewing party where you will be able to safely observe the transit through special equipment. You’ll also be able to chat with the Planétarium’s staff and learn more about this interesting phenomenon! The event is free and there is no need to reserve a spot.

Time: 7.15am to 1.34pm
Date: Monday, November 11th 2019
Location: Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan de Montréal
Facebook Event

In the event of unfavourable weather conditions, it will unfortunately be impossible to observe the transit. However, the Planetarium staff will be happy to welcome you inside where animations and images on this phenomenon will be presented.

As a reminder, it is important to never look directly at the Sun without proper equipment, as this could cause permanent damage to your eyes.