UVI Invites Public to View Solar Transit by Mercury on Planetarium Day

Mercury’s path as it transits the Sun

On Monday, Nov. 11, the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) invites the public to join the physics faculty and students for the next Planetarium Day to view the upcoming Solar transit of Mercury. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UVI library.

A Solar transit is a rare event, occurring only about 10 times per century; the next Solar transit of Mercury will not happen until 2032. During the transit, people will be able to see the shadow of the planet Mercury as it passes between the Earth and the Sun.

Warning: Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection.

During this event, the UVI mobile planetarium will be set up at the UVI library, and physics faculty and students will be on hand to discuss the nature of planetary transits and how such events are related to the search for planets around stars outside the Solar System. This technique, known as planetary transits, is a leading method of extra-solar planet detection.

This year’s Nobel Prize in physics was recently award to two scientists who pioneered the discovery of planets around other stars, so this is a great chance to learn more about how that work is done. UVI will also have several solar telescopes set up outside the library as well as other devices to safely view the transit, according to David Morris, Ph.D.

No reservations are necessary, and participants may park directly at UVI’s library.