Mercury skips across sun’s vast glare in rare transit

Mercury transit
This still image from video issued by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows Mercury as it passes between Earth and the sun on Monday.
(NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory via Associated Press)

Mercury is skipping across the vast, glaring face of the sun in a rare celestial transit.

Stargazers used solar-filtered binoculars and telescopes to spot Mercury — a tiny black dot — as it passed directly between Earth and the sun on Monday.

The eastern U.S. and Canada get the whole 5½-hour show, along with Central and South America. The rest of the world, except for Asia and Australia, get just a sampling.

Mercury is the solar system’s smallest, innermost planet. The next transit isn’t until 2032, and North America won’t get another shot until 2049.


At Cape Canaveral in Florida, space buffs got a two-for-one. As Mercury’s silhouette graced the sun, SpaceX launched 60 small satellites for global internet service.

Mercury began its transit at 4:35 a.m. Pacific time.

Skywatchers in Seattle look on during a brief break in the clouds to see a transit of the planet Mercury as it crosses the face of the sun on Monday. Mercury and Venus are the only planets that can appear to pass in front of, or transit, the sun as seen from Earth.
(Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)