Planet Mercury to transit sun on 11 November


For the first time since 9 May 2016, South Africans will be able to watch Mercury transit the Sun on 11 November at 2.35 pm (14:35 Central Africa Time (CAT).
People with access to telescopes are encouraged to to view this rare event. If you miss out you will have to wait until 13 November 2032 for the opportunity to do so again.
This according to the SA government Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).
Observers are warned not to look at the Sun directly, even for a second, whether through a telescope or binoculars or with the naked eye, as this could cause permanent damage to your eyes.
However, if you project the image of the Sun onto a piece of paper, it is perfectly safe to look at the projected image. In this way, you can also show the transit to many people simultaneously.
When Mercury comes between the Sun and the Earth on Monday, the planet will appear as a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun (unlike a solar eclipse, when the Moon wholly or partially covers the Sun).
This transit will be observable from anywhere in Africa by projecting the image of the Sun through a small telescope.
For those living in or near Pretoria, the DSI will hold a viewing event at the CSRI offices in Pretoria.
But for others elsewhere telescopes will be needed.
The viewing event which will include a short talk on this astronomical phenomenon. Takalani Charles, Junior Astronomy Policy Researcher at the DSI and Interim Administrative Officer at the African Astronomical Society, will explain what transits are and why they occur.
Details of the Pretoria viewing event:
Date: Monday, 11 November
Time :14:15 – 14:45
Venue :Building 53, CSIR Campus, South Gate, Meiring Naudé Road, Pretoria
For more information, please contact Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750 or Thabang Setlhare at 072 659 9690
Press release issued by the Government Communications (GCIS) on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation.

– Edited by Bev Mortimer

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