On Monday (Nov. 11), Mercury will pass between Earth and the sun. Because the planet is so tiny and so close to the sun, it doesn’t block the sun’s light, as the moon does during an eclipse. Rather, Mercury will be visible from Earth as a wee dot silhouetted against a vast, glowing, solar backdrop, according to NASA.
Here on Earth, we’ll be able to watch that black speck move slowly across the sun, a sight that appears only 13 times in a century. And if you miss this year’s Mercury transit, you’ll have to wait until 2032 to catch one.
The show begins at 7:36 a.m. EST on the eastern coast of the U.S. and will already be underway when the sun rises west of the Rocky Mountains. Mercury will travel halfway across the sun by around 11:20 a.m. EST. From start to finish, the transit will last about 5.5 hours, finishing at 1:04 p.m. EST according to NASA.
If skies are clear, the transit will be visible from most of North America; parts of Europe, Asia and Antarctica; and all of South America and Africa, Live Science sister site Space.com reported.