Northlanders Get A Rare Glimpse At The Planet Mercury

This is the first time since 2016 that Minnesota has been able to get this type of look.

DULUTH, Minn. – Both students and interest people from the community visited University of Minnesota Duluth’s Marshall A. Alworth Planetarium to take a rare peek at the planet Mercury during its transit across the sun.

This is the first time since 2016 that Minnesota has been able to get this type of look.

A sight of Mercury like this doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it motivates people from all over to come check it out.

The transit happens when mercury moves between the earth and the sun.

This opens a window of opportunity for a rare glimpse.

One student says when he looked through the telescope it wasn’t what he expected.

“I was picturing a lunar eclipse, part of the sun being blocked. It’s really just a tiny little speck. That was really surprising,” said Reed Peer.

UMD’s planetarium director says sightings of planets is a big part of keeping the topics of astronomy and science alive.

“It allows us to start conversations such as what the planets in our solar system are like or even going further by seeing that little dot of Mercury in front of the sun,” said Jessica Herrington. “That’s actually one of the ways we look for planets around other stars.”

Mercury transits the sun about 13 times every 100 years.

Also the planet’s orbit is tilted in comparison to earth’s orbit, which is why there are only just rare sightings of Mercury in transit.

The next time a transit of Mercury will be visible on Earth is in 2032, but folks in Minnesota won’t see it until 2049.

 

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