On May 9th Mercury will appear to move across the face of the Sun – an event astronomers call a “transit” – and we will be holding observing events here in Kendal, both to watch it ourselves and to let other people see it safely.
Because Mercury will just look like a tiny black dot on the face of the Sun seeing it will require great care and special equipment not generally available to the public. At our events we will be following the transit by viewing images of the Sun projected by telescopes onto screens, or observing it directly through special “solar telescopes” or telescopes fitted with special solar filters.
DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY WITHOUT SPECIAL EQUIPMENT DURING THE TRANSIT OR YOU COULD DAMAGE YOUR EYES OR EVEN BLIND YOURSELF.
We will star our Transit watching in Abbot Hall Park, from around 11.30am, 45 minutes or so before the Transit actually begins.
At 12.12 Mercury’s disc will touch the edge of the Sun, and three minutes later Mercury will be silhouetted against the disc, looking like a tiny black dot on it. The Transit will be at its maximum at just after 3.30pm, when Mercury will be not far from the centre of the Sun’s disc.
At 5.00 some of us will move up to Kendal Castle to watch the closing stages of the Transit, the end of which will not be visible from Abbot Hall Park because of trees and buildings. Up at the Castle we will have a fantastic view of the end of the Transit because there will be no such obstructions.
At 19.37, with the Sun now low in the western sky, Mercury will start to move off the edge of the Sun, and at 19.40 the Transit will end as Mercury moves completely off the Sun’s disc, just an hour or so before sunset.
We hope lots of people will come and watch this exciting and rare event with us in Kendal. Cross your fingers for clear skies!