Mercury Transit Observing Tips & Certificate: November 11, 2019
- Child, Teen, Adult
Preview of certificate; download the full-resolution copy here
On the morning of November 11, 2019 the planet Mercury will pass between the Earth and Sun, and all three bodies are aligned so that Mercury's tiny disc will appear to travel across, or transit, the Sun. The next transit of mercury won't be seen again until 2032, so be sure to catch it if you have clear skies.
The transit starts at 7:34am on the east coast of the USA, and will already be in progress at sunrise for everyone west of the Rocky Mountains. Since Mercury is too small to see with your eclipse glasses and requires a safe solar telescope, now is a good time to find a nearby astronomy club and attend an observing event: find your nearest club here!
Photo of the 2016 Mercury transit taken by David Huntz of the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club. Mercury is the tiny dot seen lower right of center; the larger mark seen above the left of center is a sunspot. Mercury's disc is tiny!
Do not combine solar viewing/eclipse glasses with binoculars.
You can severely damage your eyes!
Thanks to Vince Patton for this demonstration (right) of what happens if you combine eclipse glasses and binoculars. Remember melting things in the sun with magnifying glasses? Don't let that be your eye!
Only ever view the Sun through a telescope with a certified solar filter; otherwise you risk permanent damage to your eyes. Many astronomy clubs will be holding public viewing events and have solar filters on their telescopes. This transit lasts more than 5 hours, so take time to find someone observing or project an image yourself!
If you have an small refractor telescope and would like an inexpensive way to project the transit safely, Rick Feinberg from the American Astronomical Society came up with instructions on how to create a sun funnel, a safe way to project the Sun for public viewing that has been tested and enjoyed by many.
You can also join the transit-watching fun via the web on NASA SDO's "almost-live" coverage at https://mercurytransit.gsfc.nasa.gov/2019/
More information about the transit can be found at InTheSky.org
The Astronomical League is offering a Special Award for members who observe this transit, and you can download and print our NSN observing certificate for your transit viewing visitors below.
Last update: October 30, 2019