A composite photo from NASA showing the most recent transit of Mercury, on May 9, 2016.
Our Solar System is shaped like a large disk, as though the Sun were a large potato in the middle of a plate, and the planets are peas rolling around on that plate.
It's this kind of transit that allows scientists to discover alien worlds. Plus, find resources for engaging students in this rare celestial event!More news: Kmart in Kenosha to close January of 2020
Mercury is 3,000 miles in diameter, compared with the sun's 864,000 miles. One team used the transits to indirectly calculate the effect of tidal forces of the Moon on Earth. Transits of Mercury and Venus enabled some of the first attempts to measure the Astronomical Unit (AU), the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
"Never look at the Sun directly or through a telescope without proper protection". When they pass across the face of the Sun as seen from Earth, we call it a transit. "Always use a safe Sun filter to protect your eyes", NASA said. "Sodium in the exosphere absorbs and re-emits a yellow-orange color from sunlight, and by measuring that absorption, we can learn about the density of gas there".
When Mercury transits the Sun, it causes a slight dip in the Sun's brightness as it blocks a tiny portion of the Sun's light. When Mercury is positioned directly in front of the sun for hours at a stretch, researchers are able to study the planet's exosphere, a very thin atmosphere of gases, to determine their distribution and density, NASA scientist Rosemary Killen said in a statement. The orbits of the major planets exhibit slight tilts relative to the ecliptic; all are in the 1 to 2 degree range except for Venus at 4 degrees and Mercury at 7 degrees. When exoplanets transit their parent star, we can detect the dip in the star's brightness using space telescopes. It's important to use a Sun filter from a reputable vendor; you'll also need a telescope that is capable of at least a 50x zoom.More news: It looks Like You'll Need Disney Plus To Understand Future MCU Movies
First things first, NASA is reminding the public that it is very risky to look directly at the Sun - doing so puts the person at risk of permanent vision damage. But remember, don't look directly at Mr. Sun.
A look back at the transit of Venus in 2012.
In fact, the only places it can't be seen from are Australia and most of Asia and Alaska, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It begins at 6:35 a.m. CST.More news: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin demands recanvassing of ballots after results show loss
It starts on Monday at about 7.35am (8.35pm Singapore time) and will last almost six hours. Fortunately, the planet will take nearly 5.5 hours to completely cross the face of the Sun, so there will be plenty of time for West Coast viewers to witness this event.
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