A rare event will occur Monday morning as the solar system’s innermost planet Mercury will pass directly in front of the Sun. 

The passage of a planet across the face of the Sun is called a planetary transit. As seen from Earth, only transits of Mercury and Venus are possible. 

Only 13 transits of Mercury occur each century. The next chance to observe the next transit of Mercury that will be visible from the US will be 30 years from now in 2049. Because Mercury is so small and far away from Earth, a telescope with a proper Sun filter is required to safely see it. 

The Tulare Astronomical Association is offering a free public viewing of this exceedingly rare transit Monday morning between 8 and 10 a.m through a telescope equipped with a solar filter.

The special viewing will take place at the Arthur Pursell Observatory located south of Tulare. Since there’s no school on Monday, Veterans Day, this is a chance for students to see this rare event.

Mercury will slowly travel across the sun for five and a half hours, from 4:35 to 10:03 a.m. AM. However, the first few hours of this transit occurs before sunrise in California, so Mercury won’t be visible in this area until around 8 a.m. 

Arthur Pursell Observatory is located at 9242 Avenue 184 halfway between Tulare and Tipton.  Turn west off of Highway 99 on Avenue 184; drive west 3.4 miles on Avenue 184 until reaching the Arthur Pursell Observatory entrance road, about ½ mile past Road 96. 

Drive north on the entrance road a short distance to the parking area. For more information contact Reece Williford, 559-592-4379 or rtwill2@verizon.net.

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