Transit of Mercury across the Sun: Rare celestial event keeps Mumbaikars glued

In a rare astronomical phenomenon that occurs only 13 times in a century, planet Mercury, on Monday was seen as dot on the solar disc from several parts of India.

Mercury
The transit of Mercury, a rare celestial phenomenon, as observed from Worli Sea face in Mumbai. Pic/PTI

Space enthusiasts in Mumbai witnessed a tiny black dot crossing the Sun - the Mercury transit as the planet crossed the Sun between 4.43 p.m. and 7.01 p.m. on Monday.

This phenomenon occurs only when the Sun, Mercury and the Earth lined up in one plane. It appears as a dot on the disc because its angular size is very small compared to that of the Sun as seen from the Earth.

Mercury
People use telescopes with special filters to watch the planet Mercury as it makes a rare transit across the Sun. Pic/PTI

The phenomenon is a relatively rare one which occurs 13 or 14 times in a century. It occurs in May and November. The interval between one November transit and next November transit may be 7, 13 or 33 years whereas the interval between one May transit and the next May transit may be 13 or 33 years.

Mercury
People use a Xray paper to watch the planet Mercury as it makes a rare transit across the Sun. Pic/PTI

In Mumbai the event started at around 4.41 pm and it can be seen for a duration of about 2 hours 24 minutes. The event is impossible - and dangerous - to view with the naked eye or binoculars, but astronomy groups worldwide are offering the chance view it through filtered telescopes.

The last transit of Mercury had occurred on November 6, 2006 when just the end of the event was visible from the extreme north-eastern parts of India at sunrise.

Mercury
These folks are joined by a policeman who is also eager to watch the rare phenomenon. Pic/PTI

The next transit of Mercury will take place on November 11, 2019 but the event cannot be seen from India as the same will begin after the sunset time of all places in the country. The transit of Mercury on November 13, 2032 will be visible again from India.

Mercury is the smallest, and the first planet which is next planet to the Sun. It takes 88 earth days to orbit around the sun.

Missed the transit of Mercury? You can watch it here again

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