VIDEO: Rare Mercury Solar Transit Monday Recorded By NASA Solar Telescopes

By  //  May 10, 2016

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occurs only about 13 times a century

ABOVE VIDEO:  The planet Mercury is seen in silhouette, lower third of image, as it transits across the face of the sun Monday, May 9, 2016, as viewed from Boyertown, Pennsylvania.

NASA – It happens only a little more than once a decade – and throughout the U.S., sky watchers watched Mercury pass between Earth and the sun in a rare astronomical event known as a planetary transit.

Mercury appeared as a tiny black dot as it glides in front of the sun’s blazing disk over a period of seven and a half hours.

Although Mercury zooms around the sun every 88 days, Earth, the sun and Mercury rarely align.

And because Mercury orbits in a plane that is tilted from Earth’s orbit, it usually moves above or below our line of sight to the sun.

As a result, Mercury transits occur only about 13 times a century.

Transits provide a great opportunity to study the way planets and stars move in space – information that has been used throughout the ages to better understand the solar system and which still helps scientists today calibrate their instruments.

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Three of NASA’s solar telescopes watched the transit for just that reason.

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Mercury passes between Earth and the sun only about 13 times a century, with the previous transit taking place in 2006. (NASA/Bill Ingalls image)


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