Mercury's rare passage across the face of the sun on Monday, May 9, should be an exciting event for skywatchers and scientists alike. The planet's pass across Earth's nearest star may provide information about its thin atmosphere, assist in the hunt for worlds around other stars, and help NASA hone some of its instruments.
As seen from Earth, Mercury appears to cross the disk of the sun — an event known as a transit — only about 13 times per century. Currently, transits of Mercury always occur in either May or November (this changes over hundreds of years), with spring transits only occurring about a third of the time...
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