Mercury Crossing the Sun Wednesday


File photo/Ricardo Nunes) :: Mercury is shown here in an image taken from Mariner 10. Mercury's path will cross the sun on Wednesday afternoon in North America. Because of the timing of this year's transit of Mercury, it will be visible in North and South America, Australia and Asia, but not in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India, where it will be nighttime. This image is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.


Updated: 11/7/2006

WASHINGTON

An infrequent astronomical sight — tiny Mercury inching across the surface of the sun — takes place Wednesday afternoon in North America. But you'll need the right kind of telescope to see it.

Mercury is so tiny — 1/194th the size of the sun — and looking at the sun is so dangerous to the eyes that viewing must be done with a properly outfitted telescope or online telescope cameras, experts say.

Still, for many people, it may be the only chance to see the closest planet to the sun, said Michelle Nichols, a master educator at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, one of many places that will hold special viewings of Mercury's trek. Mercury is usually seen in the early evening, but it's often obscured by buildings, city lights and trees, she said.

''You definitely need a telescope to spot this one, a properly filtered telescope,'' Nichols said. ''You will see a small black dot against the face of a bright sun.''

Several Web sites, including those from mountain peaks in Hawaii, will be showing Mercury's trek online.

Mercury will travel between the sun and Earth in a way that makes it appear to cross — in astronomy the word is ''transit'' — the bottom third of the sun from left to right.

Mercury's five-hour trek starts at 2:12 p.m. EST. People in Western time zones of the United States should be able to see the entire trip.

The last ''transit of Mercury,'' as it's called, was in 2003. These events occur about 13 times a century, with the next one happening in 2016, according to NASA.

That's more frequent than the transit of Venus, which happens in pairs, roughly twice in each century. (The next one is 2012).

Because of the timing of this year's transit of Mercury, it will be visible in North and South America, Australia and Asia, but not in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India, where it will be nighttime.

———

On the Net:

Time zone listings for Mercury transit:

http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/LC/Tran06LC2.html

The path Mercury will take across the sun:

http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/tran/TM2006sun.GIF

NASA on the transit:

http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/transit06.html

Transit of Mercury from a Hawaiian summit:

http://astroday.net/Merctransit06.html

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print This Article | E-Mail This Article | Mark This Article UNhappy

Home InternationalNationalJimmy Dean
Happy Breakfast
Download Happy News TickerHeroesHealthOpinion & EditorialsScience & TechnologyEnvironmentArts & EntertainmentSportsBusiness/Money$1000 Are You Optimistic About the Future Contest Essays HappyLiving
Contact Us About Us Report Happy News
Happy Newsletter
Sign up to get our top happy headlines e-mailed to you daily by entering your e-mail address below:


"The Happynews glass is always at least half-full, and sometimes it bubbles right over."
"Happynews.com forsakes war and famine, terror and man's inhumanity to man 24/7."
"As far as anyone can tell, it's the first international and national daily news organization dedicated exclusively to upbeat stories."

Unhappy News
MSNBC CNN ABCNews FOX News BBC News
Terms of Use & Disclaimer | Contact Us | © 2006 HappyNews.com