Event to watch Mercury rare cross in front of the sun

Birzeit University’s Department of Physics organized a special event to observe the rare transit of Mercury in front of the sun at the university’s Michel and Sanieh Hakim Observatory on November 11, 2019.

This phenomenon happens when the planet travels right between the Earth and the sun and can be observed as a tiny dot on the sun visible through equipment such as the observatory’s advanced telescopes. Mercury will not directly transit the sun again before 2032.

Wafaa Khater, assistant professor at the Department of Physics, explained the phenomenon in a special lecture during the event. She pointed out the importance of watching such transits that can be predicted based on astronomical calculations and in which astronomers have the opportunity to better observe planets, learn about their characteristics, and explore other phenomena.

Mercury circles around the sun in 88 days and moves between the Earth and the sun every 116 days, but usually it moves above or below the star from the Earth’s vantage point, which is why we cannot see it.