Transit of Mercury – 2016

The small disk of Mercury on the disk of the Sun | Image © ESO

© ESO


The tiny inner planet Mercury will be seen passing across the Sun (transit) on Monday, 9th May, 2016. Although the event will happen fourteen times this century, the next one visible from India will be in 2032. Hence the 2016 transit is a great opportunity to watch this mini-eclipse and also for us to utilise for astronomy outreach.

The ASI-POEC has created a resource base on this page for anyone to see and share the transit. Scroll below for lots of Events, Resource material, Information and Suggestions.

Find the public show events happening near you

Click Sun icons for details. Do check back again as events are still being registered. See below to register your own.

Live Webcast

Watch live streaming video from npmumbai at livestream.com

More links to Live Webcasts on 9th May

(Please revisit for more links coming soon)

Sharing the Transit

The ASI-POEC call for sharing the transit met with a great response and co-ordinated efforts were done by telescope owners and science popularisers across the country, leading to more than 250 events. At all these locations volunteers were ready to show the Transit to the general public through their telescopes and they were registered on the national map by May 9th so that local public could find them. We estimate that more than 75000 people managed to see the transit through this campaign. Live webcasts too were registered from seven locations; many people got to see the transit at least online, overcoming reasons like bad weather etc. A handbook on observing the Sun and the transit as well as additional resources were featured for free download on the ASI-POEC website for educators to access useful information.

If you have a small telescope, know how to project the Sun's image, and have access to a public location from where the western sky can be seen clearly, try and set up an observation by inviting the local community to come and watch the Transit with you. Join us in a nationwide effort to share this spectacle with all people. Please use the form linked below to register your event.

Resource material by POEC

Guides to ToM 2016

Resource material for Srinagar Teachers' workshop (ASI-2016)

Resource material shared by others

What will we see?

The Sequence : Start transit : 16:41 IST → 1/4th transit : 18:30 IST → Mid transit : 20:30 IST → End Transit : 00:32 IST
(Please see and feel free to use the image below)

The event starts after 4:30 pm and is visible all over India. The first contact occurs at ~16:41 IST; however the entrance of the dot may go unnoticed since the contrast at the edge is not sufficient enough. Within minutes the planet Mercury will appear as a tiny dot on the Eastern limb of the solar disc and will become identifiable. Watch out for other sunspots too that may be present.

Path & important times of the Transit for Indian observers.

Path & important times of the Transit for Indian observers.

Mercury will appear as a dot on the solar disc moving roughly from East to West. For an Indian observer this would mean that Mercury will move from the "top" towards the "bottom" of the Sun as it moves towards the western horizon.

As the dot moves inwards the center of the Sun's image, the visibility will improve. Mercury will be at a quarter of its path in front of the Sun at about 18:30 IST. The central point occurs at 20:27 IST when the sun would have set long for us in India.

The best opportunity to view the transiting Mercury is after an hour into the event, when the effect of atmospheric absorption is still not strong enough. The transit continues beyond the sunset. Hence it should be safe to try to look for it or photograph it on the setting Sun. However the size of Mercury being small, recognising it as a black dot requires extra effort. A magnification tool (binocular / telescope) is definitely needed unlike in the case of Venus in 2012, which was strikingly noticeable as a fairly large spot.

Observational constraints:

In India, we will catch only the initial part of the transit before sunset. Most of Central and South India will see up to the initial 1/4th of the transit and North and West India will see the initial 3/8th of the transit. The Eastern part of India will see the initial 1/8th of the transit only. This translates to 2 hrs, 3 hrs and 1 hr respectively. Discounting the last hour (haze, clouds, dust, landscape etc), that gives us 1, 2 and 0 hrs respectively. This is what we will have to work with and make the best of.

City Area Sunset time
Srinagar North 19:20 IST
Imphal East 17:48 IST
Nagpur Centre 18:42 IST
Bhuj West 19:23 IST
Madurai South 18:30 IST

In addition, it is obvious that since Mercury is only 1/158 of the Sun's apparent diameter, a telescope with a magnification of 50x or more is needed to watch this event. See below for help with this.

Using Telescope or Binoculars:

A simple projection setup made from a cardboard shield and a piece of white paper as a projection surface.

A simple projection setup made from a cardboard shield and a piece of white paper as a projection surface. Image © Sky & Telescope

Warning: It is very dangerous to observe the Sun through any unfiltered optical system (lenses, binoculars, telescopes & even your bare eye). This may cause serious eye damage and even blindness. The transit observation also involves looking at the sun and hence all the precautions that apply to the observations of Sunspots and Eclipses apply here too and are essential.

* Projections with small telescopes, similar to those done for solar eclipses, would be ideal. We recommend this method as it can give you larger images and they can also be shown to many people. Please see this link for various methods of Projecting the Sun.

* Good quality "Eclipse goggles" (without any tiny holes in them!) may be used, but Mercury will be very hard to spot with the naked eye.

* Another arrangement will be to put Mylar sheets or commercially available Solar filters in front of the objectives of the binoculars / telescopes that you are using. The magnification provided by binocular should suffice to show the event. Warning: These filter need to be put so that they cut out light BEFORE it enters the telescope. Make sure of that before you put your eye to the eyepiece.

Links

Here are some more resources about safe viewing methods and accessories :

Here are some informative webpages :

14 Comments

  1. I am also very much interested in observable astronomical events. With my one reflector telescope and one goto refractor telescope, many times, I arranged sky gazing programs for my small town peoples and students. I also calculate the transit path of mercury for 9th May 2016…and also going to arrange a program to show mercury transit for my town people.

    Sir, I hope you will provide me some help, if I need it, for arranging the transit observation program.

  2. I am having the memories of past event “transit of Venus”, was photographed by me till the end of the event. I had studied the same and now I am eager to see the forthcoming “Transit of Mercury” on the terrace of our building on 9th May 2016 for which I am waiting from last couple of year.

    I hope the sky will be clear on that day.

    My best wishes to all the sky watchers..!!

  3. We at St.Philomena College, Puttur have Reflecting Astronomical Telescope, would like to see the celestial spectacle and arrange the programme for general public.

  4. Going to observe and imagine the event from Manjri Bk. Pune.
    Equipment – 10 ” dobsonian ,8 “f/6 on Neq-6 Mount.QHY-5 II L-mono & Canon 60 D.

  5. I bring your kind attention that the Bengali version of the material has been modified by Shri Bipash Dasgupta himself, which contain a new chapter of Transit Frequency, That may be uploaded. In condition of communicating with him, myself can provide the PDF file.

  6. it is good afforts but it will required coordination with verious institutions &VOs for education campagion j,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,!!!!

  7. Very exited to watch the transit, I particularly purchased a solar filter to observe this event. Disappointed that it can be seen only about 1 hour from India as the transit is as along as 7 hours. I wanted to see it when it reached the center point its path. Nevertheless, this will be an eye feast for space enthusiastics, if I can manage good pictures of this celestial event I shall send them to you!

  8. no activities on hike and what app.please start my no is 8737993158.please respond me before 8pm.waitng

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