Courtesy Steve Yingling,Western Nevada College
Jack C. Davis Observatory will be hosting a rare early morning daytime viewing event on Monday, Nov. 11 when Mercury will transit in front of the Sun.
Dr. Thomas Herring, director of the Jack C. Davis Observatory, said that because the solar event is potentially damaging to the eyes, that it is best to view it under the supervision of someone trained in solar astronomy.
“To view the transit, you should either be well-versed in using telescopes with solar filters or come to the observatory event or another public event near you run by skilled solar astronomers,” Dr. Herring said. “It is NOT safe to view this without special equipment, especially solar filters. Just eclipse viewing glasses will protect your eyes when looking at the Sun, but Mercury is too small to see without a telescope. Viewing through a telescope requires the use of a good solar filter to avoid eye damage.”
Doors to the observatory will be open at 6 a.m. and the Sun should rise about 6:40 a.m., with the transit already in progress.
Dr. Herring said the observatory will have several telescopes with proper filters for viewing the transit and will be capturing video with its main solar telescope. Video will also be streamed over the internet from NASA and/or Slooh.com.
“Even in the event of cloudy weather we’ll still open and view the internet streaming video,” Dr. Herring said. “The transit will end at 10:04 a.m. PST. We’ll stay open until 10:30 a.m. to answer questions and review video footage.”
This is one of 14 Mercury transits during this century. There have been three so far: May 7, 2003; Nov. 8, 2006; and May 9, 2016. After this one on Nov 11, the next one won’t happen until Nov. 13, 2032.