BLOG: Mercury transits the sun

Gayle Eubank
York Dispatch

It looks so small, this brave little dot flinging itself toward the giant ball of flaming gases that compose our sun.

First grade student Jack Druck, 7, uses glasses for viewing eclipses to view the planet Mercury as it passes in front of the sun, Monday May 9, 2016 at Wrightsville Elementary School. Mercury makes the transit every eight years on average with the last in 2006 with the next in 2019. Venus is the only other planet in our solar system to pass between the Earth and the sun with the next transit in 2117.
John A. Pavoncello photo

In the speeded-up video from NASA's Sun Dynamics Observatory, Mercury rushes toward the sun then zooms across the surface, passing over some darker areas that make it hard to see, then emerging on the far side to continue its journey around the sun again and again.


Monday saw people on this side of the globe preparing telescopes to take long, hard looks at the Sun as the tiny planet traversed between Earth and the star for the first time in 10 years. If you missed it, you'll have to wait until November 2019 to try again.

These kids from Wrightsville Elementary School got a good look, thanks to Ron Bolton of the York County Astronomical Society:

PHOTOS: Elementary students view Mercury transit.

And of course Twitter was all over it in unapologetically happy, geeky posts. For some of the best astronomy posts at any time, follow @BadAstronomer and find out fun facts such as

For more from the transit, check out the #MercuryTransit hashtag.

And while the consensus seems to be that there is little we can learn from watching the tiny planet traverse the sun, it's still so unusual that it's just exciting to see it.