CHENNAI: In a rare celestial event, Mercury transit will take place on Monday and the Birla Planetarium is gearing up to give Chennaites a glimpse of it — If the city misses it this year, they will have to wait for 16 more years.
According to Dr P Iyamperumal, Executive Director, Tamilnadu Science and Technology Centre, the transit of Mercury will be viewed in Chennai from 4.42 pm. The spell will be a brief one in India and Chennaites will have only 90 minutes to view the transit as the sun sets. However, the whole transit of Mercury across the sun, which takes place when Mercury comes between sun and the earth, will take place till midnight.
The last three transits of Mercury occurred in 1999 (November 15), 2003 (May 7) and 2006 (November 8). The next transit of Mercury is likely to take place on November 11, 2019 but it can’t be viewed from Tamil Nadu as the transit is expected from 6.05 pm when the sun would have set. But in 2032, the whole of India can view the Mercury transit. Birla Planetarium on Gandhi Mandapam Road is making arrangements for the public and students to view the rare spectacle using telescope projection.
Astromists have warned the public to not look directly at the sun, as you risk damaging your eyes. Mercury can just be viewed as a black dot across the sun; it’s only 1/158 of the Sun’s apparent diameter, a telescope with a magnification of 50x or more is recommended to watch this event.