Mercury Transit

The transit of Mercury, left, in front of the Sun is seen from St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, May 9, 2016. The photo was taken through a hydrogen-alpha (H-alpha) narrow spectrum solar telescope that permits examination of the sun's protuberances and showing the surface activity. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Monday, Nov. 11, the solar system's smallest planet, Mercury, will transit across the sun. This astronomical event only happens about 13 times each century, according to NASA.

This event will not be visible to the naked eye (and, even if it was, it's not recommended to look directly at the sun under any circumstances). 

The best means of watching Mercury cross the sun's light is to have a set of binoculars, or a telescope, with a certified sun filter.

From Earth, Mercury will look like a small black dot floating across the surface of the sun. The entire eastern United States will be able to see the full event with a sun-filtered telescope.

Those without a telescope can see the almost-live updates that will refresh on NASA's website. Here is where you can see the transit.

The transit will last from 7:36 a.m. to 1:04 p.m, according to EarthSky.

Mercury and Venus are the only planets with visible transits.

Venus' transit is even more rare than Mercury's; the next time Venus will have a visible transit will be in the year 2117.


Remaining astronomical events in 2019

Full beaver moon, Nov. 12

Leonids meteor shower, Nov. 17

Full cold moon, Dec. 12

Geminids meteor shower, Dec. 14

Ursids (small) meteor shower, Dec. 21 to 22


For past astronomical coverage