Are You Ready For the Mercury Transit?
Arnie Stodolsky of the South Bay Astronomical Society shows sunspots at Tulita School this fall (Credit: Joe Fierstein)

These days, there is so much more to star parties than looking through telescopes. Activities and demonstrations keep the whole family entertained in between eyepiece time.

The Transit of Mercury on November 8th will be no exception. As the planet Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun, it will be silhouetted as a little black dot against the Sun. But you'll need a telescope with a special filter to see it. So astronomy clubs around the country are preparing to share this rare sight with their communities.

Margi L. Goode of the Junior Astronomy Club of Connecticut in Guilford reported, "We used some of the hands-on materials to demonstrate a transit. The children are really enjoying the club and the activities, and we're all looking forward to the transit!"

Astronomy club members get so much out of sharing their passion for the sky with you. Pete Peterson of Astronomical Society of Southern New England in Barrington, RI tells us why. "It is very satisfying to witness the awe of children and parents too. To paraphrase what one of our club members (Roger Forsythe) said to me once, perhaps the first person to walk on Mars will have started that long journey by viewing through an ASSNE telescope. "

Nora De Muth of South Bay Astronomical Society in California agrees. "Perhaps the best experience I had was towards the end of the evening, when I had groups of return visitors who brought their friends 'because you totally have to see this thing about telescopes!'"

To share in this excitement and see this rare transit of Mercury, contact a Night Sky Network club close to you. You can find them here.