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Planetary Transit of Mercury (2032)

"Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day, but when I follow the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth; I ascend to Zeus himself to feast me on ambrosia, the food of the gods."

- Ptolemy, Astronomer, (100-170 AD)

The transit or passage of a planet across the disk of the Sun may be thought of as a special kind of eclipse. As seen from Earth, only transits of the inner planets Mercury and Venus are possible. Planetary transits are even more rare than eclipses of the Sun by the Moon. On the average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century. In comparison, transits of Venus usually occur in pairs with eight years separating the two events. However, more than a century elapses between each transit pair. The first transit ever observed was of the planet Mercury in 1631 by the French astronomer Gassendi. The next observable planetary transit will take place this day in 2032, when Mercury will travel across the disk of the sun, casting its shadow. This tartan was designed by Arpin Pierre for the last transit of Venus which occurred in June 2012, with colors and geometry marking the dark shadow cast across the fiery yellow and red disk of the sun against the dark blue sky. The companion picture shows Mercury's Caloris basin, the largest impact basin on the planet. ☀️ 🌑 🔭

As seen from Earth, Mercury appears to cross the disk of the sun — an event known as a transit — only about 13 times per century. Currently, transits of Mercury always occur in either May or November with spring transits only occurring about a third of the time. In May, Mercury is closer to us, allowing for better measurements.

Designed by Arpin Pierre, this tartan was designed for the last transit of Venus which occurred in June 2012, with the colours chosen representing: Black for the black spot of Mercury or Venus; Canary Yellow for the sun's natural color; Bright Scarlet for the sun's chromosphere; and Persian Blue for the blue sky around the sun during a favorable viewing day.

The plane of Mercury's 88-day orbit around the sun doesn't quite line up with the plane of Earth's orbit, so the smaller planet appears to pass above or below the disk of the sun most of the time. The last transit of Mercury took place in 2006, and the next one in 2019.

The planet's pass across Earth's nearest star may provide information about its thin atmosphere, assist in the hunt for worlds around other stars, and help NASA hone some of its instruments.

Mercury's next visible transit across the sun will occur November 13, 2032.

To see more  images and video of this particular transit, click the image below of the May 9, 2016 of Mercury against the disk of the sun.