VIDEO: Rare Mercury Solar Transit Monday Recorded By NASA Solar Telescopes
By Space Coast Daily // May 10, 2016
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.
Three of NASA’s solar telescopes watched the transit for just that reason.
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