Stargazers gather at UC Riverside to watch Mercury cross the sun — for the last time until 2032

By Ryan Hagen | The Press-Enterprise |

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (PE) -- 

The 5-year-old children peering into telescopes at UC Riverside watched something Monday, Nov. 11, that they won’t see again until they’re at least 18.

From Earth, the planet Mercury appeared to pass directly in front of the sun for several hours — beginning before sunrise and ending at 10:14 a.m. — for the last time until 2032. And the next transit, as it’s known, won’t be visible from North America until 2049, according to NASA.

Adults, young children and university students looked through telescopes and solar filters that prevented damage to their eyes that would otherwise come from looking directly at the sun. UCR (Astronomy club) set up the equipment on a softball field and allowed the public to view the transit and learn a bit of astronomy.

Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system and the one closest to the sun, appears as a small black dot on the face of the sun during a transit. Such an occurrence happens an average of 13 times per century.

 

Mercury transit 2019 (c) Press Enterprise
Hunter Van Vaarsel, 5, is carried by dad, Josh, as he watches Mercury pass in front of the sun through a telescope at UC Riverside on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The next so-called Mercury transit will be in 2032.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

 

 

Mercury transit 2019 at UCR (c) Press-Enterprise
Selena Mirghafouri, 2, is carried by mom, Lucy Herrera, as she observes Mercury pass in front of the sun through a telescope at UC Riverside on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

 

 

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Mercury transit 2019 by (c) Mike Bolte
Mercury transit 2019 photographed by Prof. Michael Bolte, UCSC

 

 

 

 

 

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