When:Monday, November 11, 4:35 a.m. to 11:05 a.m. PST
Where:Daytime (when the Sun is visible in the sky)
Target Audience:General public
The sky will put on a stellar show on Nov. 11, 2019, as Mercury crosses in front of the Sun. From our perspective on Earth, we can only ever see Mercury and Venus cross in front of, or transit, the Sun, so it's a rare event you won't want to miss!
With the *proper safety equipment, viewers nearly everywhere on Earth will be able to see a tiny dark spot moving slowly across the disk of the Sun. Because Mercury is so small from our perspective on Earth, you'll need binoculars or a telescope with a Sun filter to see it. You might also be able to attend a viewing party at a local museum or astronomy club event.
*CAUTION: Looking at the Sun directly or through a telescope without proper protection can lead to serious and permanent vision damage. Do not look directly at the Sun without a solar filter.
The transit starts at 4:35 a.m. PST, but viewers in certain areas, such as the West Coast, won't be able to see it until the Sun is visible in the sky. Thankfully, this transit will last about 5.5 hours, so there will be plenty of time to catch the show. At approximately 8:20 a.m. PST, Mercury will be as close as it is going to get to the center of the Sun.
Learn more about the transits of Mercury, Venus and planets around other stars with these lessons and activities:
A Teachable Moment You Can See! The Transit of Mercury
A transit of Mercury (or Venus) is not just cool to see, it’s also a great introduction to how scientists search for planets outside our solar system.
Exploring Exoplanets with Kepler
Students use math concepts related to transits to discover real-world data about Mercury, Venus and planets outside our solar system.
Time 30 mins - 1 hr
Sun Screen: A 'Pi in the Sky' Math Challenge
When Mercury passes in front of the Sun, how much sunlight is lost on Earth? Students use the mathematical constant pi to find the solution in this illustrated math challenge.
Time < 30 mins
Can You Spot Mercury?
Play science sleuth and see if you can spot Mercury passing in front of – or transiting – the sun in these images from NASA.