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Mercury Transit Will Give Utahns Chance To Gain Perpective On Universe

The path of Mercury during its 2006 transit is shown in this composite image created from observations by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Aspiring astronomers will want to look up into the sky starting early Monday morning to see the planet Mercury fly between us and the Sun.

A Mercury Transit, as it’s known, is a rare astronomical event that only happens about 13 times every 100 years. And because looking directly at the Sun is a bad idea, The Clark Planetarium is holding a free viewing party with special solar telescopes on the roof of the Main Library in downtown Salt Lake City. Seth Jarvis is the director of the planetarium. He says coming to the event will allow people to gain a little better perspective on our place in the cosmos.

“And you’re going to observe that the sun spots on the sun are way bigger than Mercury," Jarvis says. "And you’re going to be able to say, ‘holy cow!’ there are little teeny, tiny storms on the sun that are nonetheless bigger than the planet I’m watching move in front of it.”

The event at the Library is Monday morning from 9 to 11. The next Mercury Transit will be in 2019, and then not again until 2049. 

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