mercury3Astronomy Ireland is setting up the most powerful telescopes in Ireland, to show members of the general public the transit of Mercury across the Sun’s face on Monday, May 9th!

Open to the general public at no charge, the Mercury watch starts at 12PM (noon) and runs until 8PM. Come out and enjoy this amazing sight, learn about the most powerful telescopes available outside of an observatory here in Ireland, meet other astronomy enthusiasts and have some fun. There will be loads of free posters, back issues of the magazine and refreshments on the night!

If the weather is cloudy a telescope exhibition and workshop will be held demonstrating how to use telescopes and all the free posters will still be available as well. We’ll give a short talk too, so it will be well worth coming along to visit the world’s most popular astronomy society.

To find out more about the event call us on 086 06 46 555 or email office@astronomy.ie or just come along on the night, regardless of the weather! (There’s a bus from Dublin city centre if you use public transportation – Route 40D from Parnell Square). You can also learn more about Astronomy Ireland on our website HERE.

Click here for a map to the viewing site

Want to know more about the Mercury Transit? 

A transit of Mercury across the Sun takes place when the planet Mercury comes between the Sun and the Earth, and Mercury is seen as a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun. Transits of Mercury with respect to Earth are much more frequent than transits of Venus, with about 13 or 14 per century, in part because Mercury is closer to the Sun and orbits it more rapidly.

Transits of Mercury occur in May or November. The last three transits occurred in 1999, 2003 and 2006; the next will occur on May 9, 2016.

On June 3, 2014, the Curiosity rover on the planet Mars observed the planet Mercury transiting the Sun, marking the first time a planetary transit has been observed from a celestial body besides Earth.

Transits of Mercury can happen in May or November with May transits being about half as frequent as November transits. They currently occur within a few days either side of May 8 and November 10. The interval between one November transit and the next November transit may be 7, 13, or 33 years; the interval between one May transit and the next May transit may be 13 or 33 years. May transits are less frequent than November transits because during a May transit, Mercury is near aphelion whereas during a November transit, it is near perihelion. Perihelion transits occur more frequently due to two effects: firstly, Mercury moves faster in its orbit at perihelion and can reach the transit node more quickly, and secondly at perihelion Mercury is closer to the Sun and so has less parallax.

During May transits Mercury has an angular diameter of 12″ and these transits take place at the descending node of Mercury’s orbit. During November transits Mercury has an angular diameter of 10″ and these transits occur at the ascending node.

Transits of Mercury are gradually drifting later in the year; before 1585 they occurred in April and October.

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)