Ken Larsen's web site - Transit of Mercury - Monday November 11, 2019


There will be a transit of Mercury on Monday November 11, 2019.  A "transit" means that the planet Mercury will appear to cross the disk of the sun.  It will appear as a tiny black dot.  To view the dot, a telescope with a solar lens and a magnification of 50X is needed.  For details see


To viewers on the east coast of the United States, the transit will begin at 7:35 AM EST and end at 1:04 PM EST.  The path will go from the lower left to the upper right of the sun's disk.  It will appear near the center at 10:19 AM.

To see it via the internet, go to


Weather permitting, Chapel Hill's Morehead Planetarium together with the local astronomy club (CHAOS) will host a public viewing from 11:00 AM until 1:04 PM.  The viewing will take place in sun dial area in front of the planetarium.


The next Mercury transit will be in the year 2032.  The previous one was in 2016.  There are a total of 14 during the 21st century.


Venus is the only other planet in our solar system which does transits.  Unfortunately, the next one won't be until the year 2117.  The last transit of Venus was in 2012.




Image of 2016 Mercury transit.  It's tiny.  A telescope with 50X magnification is needed to see it.
Image of 2012 Venus transit.  It can be seen without magnification.  Unfortunately, the next Venus transit won't occur until the year 2117.


Reflections on the November 11, 2019 transit of Mercury


November 11, 2019:  Today I spent over 2 hours in the sundial area of the Morehead Planetarium helping explain the "transit of Mercury" to members of the public ... mostly parents who came with their children. I complimented the parents on raising their kids well ... getting them interested in astronomy ... and I complimented the kids on their interest in astronomy. I showed pictures that compared today's transit of Mercury to the 2012 transit of Venus and asked thought provoking questions about astronomy. I ended up drawing more and more people to me, and some were taking pictures and videos of me. Near the end a group of about 12 wanted a group photo with me in the center of their photo. That was cool. I felt like a celebrity. Amusingly, 1.) I'm not on the Planetarium staff, and 2.) an email from me to the staff was the catalyst that created today's public viewing. The staff was vacillating about doing the public viewing, because Mercury is very tiny and a telescope is needed to see it. Venus, on the other hand, is much larger and closer to us. Its 2012 transit was magnificent. Unfortunately the next Venus transit is in 2117 ... 98 years from now. I asked the kids how old they'd be in 2117. I told the younger ones that they might make it if they eat their vegetables and get plenty of exercise. That endeared me to the parents but drew scowls from some of the kids. LOL I had a fun time.





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