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View early-morning transit of Mercury at IU Kokomo Observatory

November 4, 2019

KOKOMO, Ind. – An early morning look at the upcoming transit of Mercury can be seen through the telescope at the Indiana University Kokomo Observatory.

Patrick Motl, associate professor of physics, will open the Observatory just after sunrise, at 7:30 a.m. Monday, November 11, for viewers to see the closest planet to the sun as it transits the sun, lining up with it in a way to block its rays from reaching earth. 

It will be open until the transit ends, shortly after 1 p.m. Motl said the most exciting part, when Mercury appears as a black drop against the sun, will be from about 1:02 to 1:05 a.m.

Because the planet is so small and far away from the earth, a telescope or binoculars with a sun filter are needed to view it, if weather permits.

The only two planets that can be seen transiting the sun from earth are Venus and Mercury, because they are the only two inside earth’s orbit.

Viewers will be able to see the transit through the Observatory’s two telescopes, a six-inch Takahashi refracting telescope and a 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope mounted together.

The Takahashi provides exceptionally sharp images of planets, while the Meade allows viewers to see fainter objects in the sky, due to its larger light-collecting area.

For more information about the transit of Mercury, go to http://bit.ly/322Df2h

In addition to the transit of Mercury, the Observatory will be accessible during its regular monthly free open house, from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, November 10.

Motl will begin the open house with a talk about the eROSITA x-ray telescope, an instrument built by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany. It is part of the Russian-German Spektr-RG space observatory.

Both events are free and open to the public, at the Observatory, 2660 Washington Street. Free parking is available on campus.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 11/04/2019