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Monday, 9 May 2016

Uni offers view of Mercury's transit

The University of York’s astrocampus opens today (Monday 9 May) for those wishing to see the transit of Mercury.

The planet will move between the Earth and the Sun – an astronomical event that hasn’t happened in almost a decade.

Known as a transit, the event will be visible as the dark silhouette of the planet appears to travel across the surface of the sun.

Although too small to be seen with the naked eye, the Astrocampus will be open from 12.30 – 5.30pm so people can watch through solar telescopes. Students and staff will also be on hand to assist with observing and to answer questions.

Dr Emily Brunsden, director of the astrocampus and associate lecturer in York’s physics department, said: “Transits are possible with both Mercury and Venus, inner planets to the Earth's orbit, as they orbit the Sun faster than the Earth.

“Transits of Mercury are more common and are spaced by a few years, the last one being in 2006. Transits of Venus are much rarer, with a pair of transits eight years apart every 243 years, the last being in 2012. The next transit of Mercury will be in November 2019.”

The transit of Mercury starts at 11.12am and finishes at 6.42pm, and no ticket is required to enter the astrocampus.

Further information: The event is weather dependent.

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