Mercury Transit to occur on Monday

© Can Stock Photo / enricoagostoni

A perfect planetary alignment will produce a solar event on Monday when Mercury transits the Sun.

The transit will cause Mercury to appear as a tiny black dot moving across the surface of the sun.

According to Astronomer Gary Boyle, the display is caused by the Sun and the planets being in the right place at the right time.

“Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and it orbits once every 88 days…but it doesn’t always cross the sun as it orbits around our daytime star. When the geometry is correct and when the earth lines up with Mercury and the Sun than we see a transit,” Boyle explained.

The spectacle can be seen in Ontario from 7:36 a.m. until 1:04 p.m. Monday. Boyle reminds people to use extra caution and never look at the sun without proper protection. He also recommends that people reach out to local astronomy clubs to view the event. Approximately 150 Mercury’s could fit across the face of the Sun. Because of its relatively small size next to the Sun, Boyle said the transit would be nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.

“Dealing with the Sun’s a very dangerous subject,” said Boyle. “Always try to find a telescope with a safe solar filter on it and never try to look at the Sun by yourself.”

There are about 14 Mercury transits per century. The last one occurred in 2016 with the next one not taking place until November 2032. Boyle describes it as “science in motion.”

“It’s events like this that take people out of the house,” he said. “Whether you have a meteor shower or a lunar eclipse. It pulls people away from the TV to learn a bit of science and help you to encourage the younger ones to stick with science to make the next huge discovery years from now or even decades from now all by this one grand event that’s one of those awe-inspiring sights that you’ll never ever forget.”