On Monday, a rare event will take place: Mercury will transit across the face of the sun. Similar to the way we see exoplanets, Earth observers will be able to see dips in light as the tiny planet makes its way across the face of the sun, blotting out just a fraction of starlight.
Slooh Observatory, a group of remote operated telescopes, will be livestreaming the event online. The event starts at 7 a.m. EDT Monday and will run for an astounding seven hours. Observing a Mercury transit from Earth only happens a few times per century, and requires specialized equipment to capture in order not to damage either your eyes or the telescope. Slooh will also feature expert guests in its coverage of the event.
The observatory is encouraging viewers to submit their own pictures of the event, though we caution that staring directly at the sun, especially through a telescope, can damage your eyes or even lead to blindness. Check out this 2006 article from Phil Harrington on observing the bright stuff. Erika Rix also gave a rundown on observing the transit in our March issue.
The Mercury transit is rare. The last one was in 2006, and the next one won’t be until 2019. NASA has a schedule up of other dates, past and present. You can tune in Monday at the video below.
You can go to Slooh.com to join and watch this live broadcast, snap and share your own photos during the event, chat with audience members and interact with the hosts, and personally control Slooh’s telescopes.