A rare astronomical alignment known as a Mercury Transit will occur on Monday, Nov. 11, and will be visible across almost all of North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Western Asia.
A transit occurs when a planet passes directly between the Earth and the sun. They are rare and only happen about 13 times every 100 years. The next one will occur on Nov. 13, 2032.
In order to see the transit, spectators will need the proper solar filter to safely look at the sun, as well as cloud-free weather.
Looking at the sun without the proper protection can lead to permanent eye damage, including distorted vision or loss of vision all together.
After the 2017 total solar eclipse, there were reports from people across the country that their eyes hurt from looking at the sun. One woman even burned her retinas due to observing the event without protective eyewear.
“This damage can be temporary or permanent and occurs with no pain. It can take a few hours to a few days after viewing the solar eclipse to realize the damage that has occurred,” Prevent Blindness explained on their website. Prevent Blindness is an organization that works to prevent blindness and preserve sight by informing the public.
Onlookers will need specially made solar filters, such as eclipse glasses, to safely observe the Transit of Mercury.
Interested people should order their solar filters now from a reputable vendor that meets the international safety standards so that they arrive in time.
In order to see next month’s Mercury Transit, onlookers will need more than just a pair of eclipse glasses.
“Mercury is too small to see with your eclipse glasses and requires a safe solar telescope,” NASA said.
“Only ever view the Sun through a telescope with a certified solar filter; otherwise you risk permanent damage to your eyes,” NASA added.
It is very important to make sure that the solar filter is on the correct end of the telescope. Looking through an ordinary telescope or binoculars with only a pair or eclipse glasses over your eyes will not work.
People that cannot get the proper viewing equipment in time can visit one of many astronomy clubs across the country holding a viewing event on the day of the Mercury Transit or watch the event online.
Click here to learn more about the upcoming Mercury Transit.