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15 July 2024

UAE to watch transit of Mercury across Sun

By Wam

Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Researcher in Astronomy, Meteorology and General Supervisor at Sharjah Planetarium, said the UAE will next month witness the transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun.

''The 7 and half hour transit commences on Monday, May 9, at 11:12 UT (Universal Time, which is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time) and ends later that same day at 18:42 UT, with mid-transit taking place at 14:57 UT. During a transit, Mercury is seen as a tiny black dot,'' he noted.

In the UAE, he explained, the solar transit will be watched at 3:12 pm.

He emphasised that the safest way to observe a transit of Mercury is through a telescope or binocular to protect the eyes.

He said that the Sharjah Planetarium would welcome interested watchers from 4:30 pm till the sunset of that day.

Because Mercury is seen against the solar disk, a transit can be viewed from anywhere on the Earth where the Sun is above the horizon at the time of the event. The 2016 transit can be seen in full from West Asia in the evening, West Africa and the Atlantic Ocean in the midday, and from Americas in the morning.

The previous transit took place in November 2006. This is because May and November transits of Mercury are viewed from opposite sides of the Earth's orbit, Mercury is seen descending (moving North to South) during May transits and ascending (moving South to North) during November transits.

After 2016, the next two Mercury transits will take place on 11th November, 2019 and 13th November, 2032.