The public is invited to Cal State Fullerton on Monday, Nov. 11, to view the Transit of Mercury, a rare astronomical event. The viewing, held from 7 to 10 a.m. in front of Dan Black Hall, is hosted by the Physics Department in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
During the transit, Mercury will move between the sun and the Earth and observers will see planet Mercury as a small black dot moving across the face of the sun, said Shovit Bhari, staff physicist. The transit will start at 4:35 a.m. and end at 10:05 a.m.
“Transits like this give us a chance to visualize our size in the solar system. Mercury is the smallest of the planets in the solar system and closest to the sun,” Bhari said.
Telescopes, equipped with special solar filters required for observation, will be available for public use. Special solar glasses also will be available for a donation.
There are about 13 transits of Mercury each century. The last transit occurred on May 9, 2016, and the next one will happen Nov. 13, 2032.
“During the transit, the brightness of the sun or star decreases for a fixed period. If transits were happening in other planetary systems, based on the extent of the transit to which the brightness of stars decreases, astronomers can obtain information about exoplanets,” Bhari said. Astronomers have discovered over 2,500 exoplanets using the transit method, he added.
Johannes Kepler, a 17th century astronomer and mathematician, first predicted that Venus and Mercury would transit between the Earth and the sun. The first transit of Mercury was viewed in 1631, though Kepler did not live to witness the event, Bhari noted.
The campus is closed Nov. 11 in observance of Veterans Day and visitor parking is free. Parking Lot C or Nutwood Parking Structure are closest to Dan Black Hall, located off Nutwood Avenue. Visit the website for campus map and visitor parking information.