Photo Credit: NASA
Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, will pass between Earth and the star on November 11. The stellar show only happens about 13 times in a century and will happen the next time in 2032. It's a rare transit when the planet is visible while it moves against the Sun's surface, and shouldn't be missed at any cost. This time around, people in South America, North America, Europe, and Africa will be able to witness the action.
Mercury and Venus are the only two planets we can get to see crossing the Sun from Earth. Venus transits are even rarer and won't happen until 2117. As Mercury moves across the Sun, it causes a slight drop in the Sun's brightness, letting scientists search for more planets that orbit distant stars.
If you're in India, you're in for a bit of a disappointment though. The transit of Mercury won't be visible from Australia and most of Asia and Alaska. However, you can still catch a live feed of the spectacle. Mercury's transit will last for around five and a half hours, starting at 4:35am PST (6:05pm IST on Monday). The last time this cosmic event occurred was back in 2016.
Mercury will appear as an extremely small dark spot, moving across the desk of the Sun. NASA recommends using "proper safety equipment" to enjoy the view. Since Mercury is tiny, people will need binoculars or a telescope fitted with a Sun filter. NASA warns that looking at the Sun directly or without proper protection can lead to some serious eye damage.
In case you don't have the proper gear, NASA will stream 'near-real-time' images of the Sun from its Solar Dynamic Observatory throughout the transit. But if you're in the US, you absolutely shouldn't miss it as this is the last time Mercury's transit will be visible from the US until 2049.