On Monday November 11, 2019 the planet Mercury will pass in front of (transit) the Sun from our point of view on Earth. This is the 4th of a total of 14 Mercury transits that will occur this century. However, the next two transits (2032 & 2039) are not going to be visible from the United States. After this transit on Monday, the next one that will be visible for folks in the continental US will not be until May 2049; 29 years from now.
Folk in the Eastern part of North America will be able to watch the whole transit from start to finish on Monday. The events starts at about 7:35 AM, so you’ll need a good view to the east-southeast as the Sun will only be about 8 degrees above the horizon at the beginning. The event end at about 1:04 PM.
It should go without saying, but I’ll do so anyway…. you should only try and observe the Sun directly if you have the proper solar equipment to do so! Even a brief glance at the Sun can permanently damage your eyesight. The planet Mercury will appear as a small dot (tiny really) as it passes in front of the Sun, so it is unlikely that you would be able to see this without properly filtered equipment. If you break out the eclipse glasses you saved from The Great Eclipse Of August 2017, you probably won’t be able to see anything. If you’re going to try and take pictures of the event, again make sure your camera is properly filtered with a solar filter to photograph the Sun.
If you don’t have the proper equipment to watch this event, you can come out and use the Oglethorpe Astronomical Association’s (OAA) solar filtered telescopes to take a look. We will have at least 3 telescopes set-up at Skidaway Island State Park for the duration. We plan to be on location and have the telescopes set-up by 7:30 AM. Unfortunately we will miss the very beginning of the event because the Sun will not have climbed high enough above the trees at the start. But we will start viewing as soon as possible and will remain for the whole event.
There is a $5 parking fee per vehicle to get into the park (unless you have a pass), but Skidaway Island State Park is a great place to spend a morning even if there wasn’t a rare Astronomical event to watch; so its money well spent. For questions about the event or the park, please contact Skidaway Island State Park at (912) 598-2300, or check out their events list on Facebook. You can also reach out to the OAA at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some links for more information about this (and future) Mercury transits for you to check out: