Wednesday, 08. November 2006
Transit of Mercury - November 8th 2006

On November 8, 2006, Mercury will slowly slide across the face of the sun during an event known as a transit. A transit of Mercury is relatively rare—there are only about a dozen in a century.

The Exploratorium’s Live@ crew will be at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, and, with the Kitt Peak staff, will Webcast the transit: a live five-hour telescope-only feed beginning at 11:00 am PST.

Global Visibility

Mercury's path across the Sun

1999 Mercury Transit - click the picture for a larger view

The transit will take place from 11:12 a.m. PST until 4:10 p.m. PST and will be visible from the Pacific, the Americas, eastern Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, although some locations will not be able to see the entire transit. Because of Mercury’s diminutive size, the transit cannot be seen with the unaided eye, but it can be viewed with a telescope (with the proper filter) or with a homemade optical projector.

Transit of Mercury

Homemade Optical Projector & How To View it Safely.

Watch RealMedia Stream
Images from telescopes with audio commentary by Ron Hipschman at the top of each hour.

1. During this transit, you will see that Mercury is actually moving.
While this may seem like an obvious point, when was the last time you actually saw a planet move across the sky?
2. You will notice that Mercury is round.
The added benefit is that seeing the sharply-defined disk of Mercury silhouetted against the fiery solar backdrop is really pretty awesome.
3. You will see just how small Mercury is.
Most of us know that Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system (since Pluto was kicked out of the category in August).

Watching our Solar System at Work by The Planetary Society.

See also in the News: Skygazers await Mercury transit by BBC News.

What will it look like? An animation is worth a thousand words:
2006 Transit of Mercury by NASA.

UPDATE 11.11.06 @ 16.02 Uhr


Enjoying Wednesday's transit of Mercury from Dallas, Texas, astronomer Phil Jones recorded this detailed image of the Sun.

Along with a silhouette of the innermost planet, a network of cells and dark filaments can be seen against a bright solar disk with spicules and prominences along the Sun's edge.

The composited image was taken through a telescope equiped with an H-alpha filter that narrowly transmits only the red light from
hydrogen atoms.

Left of center, the tiny disk of Mercury seems to be imitating a small sunspot. Nice! Isn't it?

UPDATE 18.11.06 @ 18.44 Uhr

The tiny black speck is Mercury. The star looming in the background is our own sun.
The Japanese Space Agency's new orbiting solar observatory, Hinode (formerly known as Solar B), took the picture on Nov. 8th just as Mercury was about to begin a rare solar transit. Thousands of people on Earth saw and photographed the event, but Hinode's photo is like no other because it shows the view through an X-ray telescope.

X-ray Transit of Mercury
by NASA.


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