Look! Up in the sky! Itís a bird . . . itís a plane . . . itís the planet Mercury traveling across the face of the Sun.
On Wednesday afternoon, November 8th, Mercury will make a transit across the Sun, and the public is invited to Hartnell College to safely view this rare event.
The transit of Mercury will be visible across most of North America, though only those of us in the western part of the country will be able to see it in its entirety, which will last from 11:12 a.m. to 4:09 p.m. During the transit, which occurs roughly 13 times a century, Mercury will appear only 1/194 the size of the Sun as its tiny disc moves slowly across the Sun.
"The Hartnell Astronomy Department and members of the Fremont Peak Observatory Association will have a variety of solar telescopes available for safe viewing of the event," announced Andy Newton, Hartnellís Planetarium Director. The telescopes will be set up on the top floor of Hartnellís new parking structure off Central Avenue in Salinas from 11 a.m. until after 4 p.m., weather permitting.
Viewing the event requires a telescope equipped with a special solar filter to protect the eyes.
"Do not attempt to view the transit without the proper equipment or with the naked eye," warns Newton. ďWe will have telescopes available for the public to use and astronomers will be available to talk about what we are seeing for the duration of the transit, which lasts almost 5 hours.Ē
There will be no charge for parking during the event. Rain or cloud cover will cancel the viewing.
The next transit of Mercury occurs on May 9, 2016.
Please contact Planetarium Director Andy Newton at (831) 755-6803 for further information.