2006: A Mercury Space Odyssey

Courtesy photo

An illustration of the Solar System.

Jessie Stancliff

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to view it through binoculars. You need proper viewing materials.
The Mesa Physical Science Department is hosting a viewing for this event. The whole event will last approximately five hours but you will only be able to view Mercury at Mesa from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
We are lucky to be able to view this in mid-afternoon. A lot of times when these events happen they are in the middle of the night or early morning.
“Compared to the sun, we think of Earth and Mercury as being really small and the Sun being humungous,” Jerry Schad, Mesa Professor of Physical Science and Astronomy. “The size comparison is really striking.”
There will be telescopes set up on the north side of the K100 building. If you are not sure where that is, the set up will be underneath the 200ft tall KSDS radio tower. One telescope will be projecting the image onto a screen and through the other telescope you will be able to look through and view the planet.
Professors and staff will be on sight to help and keep you informed with what is going on. If weather is not permitting, you will be able to view this transit from an Internet feed in room K104.
This is a rare opportunity to be able and participate in a priceless piece of history that won’t happen for another 10 to 12 years and by then you may not remember this monumental occasion is happening. So if you have nothing better to do on a Wednesday head on to Mesa and look to the sky.
Mesa students have a chance to view a rare phenomenon that only happens once every ten to twelve years, and will not be seen again until 2016.

This event is a viewing of Mercury transiting the sun’s face on Wednesday.

The last one occurring in 2003, was all but unable to be viewed from California.

The Mesa Physical Science Department is hosting a viewing for this event. The whole event will last approximately five hours but you will only be able to view Mercury at Mesa from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The crossing of Mercury over the sun will be viewable from most locations on the Earth. The West Coast and across the Pacific can see the whole transit from beginning to end.

The name Mercury was derived from the Romans and some cultures refer to it as the water star. Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet from the Sun, so is not easily seen. Since it is so close to the sun, Mercury has no atmosphere making it an uninhabitable planet.

The transiting of Mercury across the sun will be broken down into four contacts. The first contact starts when the rim of the planet begins to cross the southeastern part of the sun. As Mercury continues its path it enters into the second contact, in which the sun silhouettes Mercury’s surface. If you are viewing the third or fourth contact it would be a mirror image of the first and second depending on where you are located.

This is somewhat like a lunar sighting; you should not look at it from straight on or try to view it through binoculars. You need proper viewing materials, like a telescope

We are lucky to be able to view this in mid-afternoon. A lot of times when these events happen they are in the middle of the night or early morning.

The Mesa College viewing event will set up telescopes on the north side of the K100 building. If you are not sure where that is, it will be set up near the 200ft tall KSDS radio tower. One telescope will be projecting the image onto a screen and the other telescope will be for viewing the planet.

Professors and staff will be on sight to help and keep you informed with what is going on. If weather is not permitting, you will be able to view this transit from an Internet feed in room K104.

This is a rare opportunity to be able to participate in a priceless piece of history that won’t happen for another 10 to 12 years. By then you may not remember this monumental occasion is happening. So if you have nothing better to do on a Wednesday head down to Mesa and look toward the sky.

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