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See Mercury Pass In Front Of Sun Monday (Or Wait Until 2019)


A rare celestial event will take place on Monday: The planet Mercury will pass in front of the sun.

A transit of mercury is when the planet passes between the earth and the sun, becoming visible during the daytime. Transits of Mercury only happen 13 times a century, and not all of them are visible from all parts of the world.

“If we can get breaks in the clouds, we’re going to see a little tiny round shadow of the planet Mercury cross the observable face of the sun," says Harold Henderson, director of the Lake Afton Public Observatory.

The observatory, in partnership with the Kansas Astronomical Observers, will have three locations in Wichita for people to view the transit of Mercury for free using filtered telescopes. Henderson says it’s important that anyone trying to see the event do so only with the proper equipment because "Mercury is a little tiny planet and the sun is a mighty intense object to look at."

Credit Kansas Astronomical Observers/Lake Afton Observatory
A very realistic rendering of what will occur when Mercury passes across the face of the sun.

Telescopes will be set up for the duration of the transit of Mercury from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in parking lots at the Great Plains Nature Center, Exploration Place and the Sedgwick County Zoo. 

If you can't make it Monday, NASA has a rendering to give you an idea of what will happen during the transit:


Follow Abigail Wilson on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.