Rare Mercury transit across Sun on May 9

Bhubaneswar: The people of Odisha will have the privilege of witnessing a rare celestial phenomenon on May 9 as the Mercury will cross the face of the Sun for the third time in the 21st Century.

In a release on Saturday, Dr Suvendu Patnaik, Deputy Director of Pathani Samanta Planetarium, said the transit of the Mercury will begin from 4.42 PM and end at 12.12 am. In India, people will be able to see the first and second phases of transit. But they cannot see the third and fourth phases as the Sun will set at 6.06 PM.

“The transit of Mercury will begin as the planet will touch the eastern portion of the Sun. The transit will move up gradually and end after crossing the western portion of the Sun. The duration of the transit will be more than seven hours,” Patnaik said.

He said the people of West Europe, West Africa, South America will witness the complete transit while countries like Australia, East Russia, Japan and China will witness partial transit.

He, however, clarified that the transit can be seen only if the sky is clear.

The transit of Mercury takes place when it remains on a straight line between the Sun and the Earth.

While there were 14 transits of Mercury in the 20th Century, the same number of transits of the planet will take place in the 21st Century. One transit has taken place on May 7, 2003 and the other on November 8, 2006.

The next transit of Mercury will take place on November 11, 2019 which will be partially witnessed in India. But the people of India will witness complete transit on November 13, 2032.

Patnaik has requested the people to witness the rare phenomenon at the Planetarium between 5 PM and 5.45 PM. But he said the programme will be cancelled if there is cloudy weather.