UNK to turn telescopes toward rare celestial event

A celestial sight more rare than a solar eclipse will be visible from central Nebraska November 11. UNK is helping people to see it safely. (Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein)
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - It's more rare than a solar eclipse and will be visible from central Nebraska Monday, November 11.

Mercury passes between the earth and the sun and the University of Nebraska-Kearney is offering a safe way to see it happen.

According to a release from UNK, they will have solar-observing telescopes available for anyone interested in viewing the event - weather permitting.

“During a planetary transit, a planet crosses over our field of view of the sun,” said Joel Berrier, an assistant professor in the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Department of Physics. “This event is similar to an eclipse, but since only a small portion of the sun is obscured, it is not as easily noticed or observed without specialized safety equipment.”

Appearing as a small, black dot, Mercury will move across the sun’s face from 6:35 a.m. to 12:04 p.m. local time. The transit will be visible shortly after the sun rises at 7:18 a.m.

On average, there are 13 transits of Mercury each century, according to NASA. If you miss this transit, the next one happens in November 2032, but that event won’t be visible in the United States. The next transit visible from the U.S. will occur in May 2049.