In a rare astronomical event known as a planetary transit which often takes place just once a decade, Mercury is all set to pass between the Earth and the Sun. The smallest planet of the solar system will appear as a tiny black dot when it will glide in front of the sun for a period of seven and a half hours.
To capture the spectacular phenomenon, three NASA satellites will providing images of the transit and one of them will have a near-live feed.
People in the United States will be able to watch it between about 7:12 a.m. and 2:42 p.m. EDT on May 9. The transit will not be visible without the usage of binoculars or telescope which must be fitted with a solar filter for safety.
Astronomers are extremely delighted about this rare phenomenon because planetary transits allow them to gain more information about the planets in our solar system. Observing such transits in the 17th century helped scientists learn about topics such as the atmosphere of Venus to the slight shifts in Mercury’s orbit.
According to NASA, Scientists for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory or SOHO (jointly operated by NASA and ESA, the European Space Agency), and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, will work in tandem to study the May 9 transit.
The transit will be live streamed on NASA TV
(All images sourced from NASA.Tumblr)