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Watch Mercury move across the sun online — or in the sky, if you’re lucky and careful

8 Nov 2019, 18:58 UTC
Watch Mercury move across the sun online — or in the sky, if you’re lucky and careful
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A multiple-exposure image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows Mercury’s track across the sun’s disk in 2016. (NASA / GSFC / SDO Image / Genna Duberstein)
The planets will be aligned on Monday for a rare astronomical event known as the transit of Mercury, and skywatching fans are sure to see it even if the skies are cloudy, thanks to this little thing called the internet.
For folks in Western Washington, watching the action online will be the best bet when the tiny black dot of Mercury’s disk crosses the sun. Mercury will make its first contact at 4:35 a.m. PT, when the skies will still be dark in Seattle. It’ll be another two and a half hours before the sun creeps over the Cascades. By that time, the transit will be almost half-done.
Even then, the weather forecast calls for clouds that could well obscure the view for the rest of the transit, which ends at 10:04 a.m. PT.
Clouds won’t be a problem for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, however. From its vantage point in space, SDO will be beaming back high-resolution, multi-wavelength views of the sun with Mercury’s speck, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will be posting ...

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