A free viewing event (small donations will be requested) will be held at Astronomy Ireland HQ in Blanchardstown on Monday, where members of the public will be able to see the transit of Mercury with the aid of the most powerful telescopes in the country. The rest of North America, Europe and Africa will catch part of the action.
Mercury began its transit at 4:35 a.m. Thankfully, this transit will last nearly six hours, so there will be plenty of time to catch the show.
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, travelling in a smaller orbit than the Earth - 88 days instead of the Earth's 365 ¼ days. And in the case of Mercury, it occurs only about 13 times per century.
Binoculars or a telescope will be needed to see the event. "The next Mercury transit isn't until 2032 - and in the USA, the next opportunity to catch a Mercury transit is in 2049!" Since each planet orbits the sun during different times of the year, it makes it hard for people on earth to see these transits.
In most of the U.S. and Canada, and New Zealand, the transit will be in progress as the Sun rises.
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Astronomers can use this technique to discover alien planets orbiting stars in distant systems. "So Mercury's going to most likely be excessively little".
Mercury's transit of the Sun is the ideal opportunity for astronomers to catch a glimpse of the planet.
A transit can only take place when the Earth, Mercury and the Sun are exactly in line in three dimensions. Intermittent, passing plunges of starlight show a circling planet.
It will end at 18:04 GMT when the edge of the silhouetted planet will appear to leave the Sun's disc. Lastly, the shadow of Mercury gets into contact with the edge of the sun's disk.