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How To See Mercury Move Past The Sun Today In Incredibly Rare Event

How To See Mercury Move Past The Sun Today In Incredibly Rare Event

If you're into your sky-gazing, then you'll probably already know that today is a pretty big deal in the astronomical calendar.

The rare event occurs only 13 times every 100 years, taking place when Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun - the next one will be in 2032, so it's probably best not to miss out.

As Mercury is so close to the Sun - and so far away from us - it looks like a tiny black dot crossing in front of the sky. So small, in fact, that it's not likely to be visible with the human eye. Obviously don't stare into the sun to try and see it - not if you value your eyesight, at any rate.

The surface of Mercury. Credit: NASA
The surface of Mercury. Credit: NASA
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Instead, NASA recommends that you use a telescope with at least 50x magnification and also a solar filter to avoid damaging your eyes. Lucky we all have one of those knocking about then, isn't it?

The phenomenon will be visible from many places aross the planet - including the UK, luckily, where it will start at abut 12.35pm. Mercury will start its journey across the Sun then but will be visible until around 6pm - so if you look any time between then you should catch it.

NASA explained: "The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as 'eclipse glasses' or hand-held solar viewers.

"Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight."

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How to watch the sun safely without specialist equipment. Credit: NASA
How to watch the sun safely without specialist equipment. Credit: NASA

So at least you don't need any expensive equipment to see solar events.

Mitzi Adams, a solar scientist at NASA, said: "Viewing transits and eclipses provide opportunities to engage the public, to encourage one and all to experience the wonders of the universe and to appreciate how precisely science and mathematics can predict celestial events.

"Of course, safely viewing the Sun is one of my favourite things to do."

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Now, it goes without saying - this all depends on the brilliant British weather. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it's largely forecast to rain over the country during most of the rest of the day.

It might not be quite the same, but you can still view the Mercury Transit on live streams on the internet, including this one on space.com.

Featured Image Credit: NASA

Topics: Science, Interesting, space

Amelia Ward

Amelia is a journalist at LADbible. After studying journalism at Liverpool John Moores and Salford Uni (don't ask), she went into PR and then the world of music. After a few years working on festivals and events, she went back to her roots. In her spare time, Amelia likes music, Liverpool FC, and spending good, quality time with her cat, Paul. You can contact Amelia at [email protected]