Mercury to Pass Between Earth and Sun in Rare Event: How to Watch

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Mercury will pass between Earth and the sun on Monday in a rare trip that takes place about once each decade, according to NASA.

The smallest planet in our solar system will appear as a tiny black dot as it crosses the sun on May 9, NASA said on its website.

Mercury — the first planet from the sun — will come into view at approximately 4:12 a.m. PT., reaching mid-point about 3.5 hours later.

The transit of Mercury takes about 7.5 hours and will be visible across the eastern United States the entire time. Those in the western part of the U.S. will be able to see the event after sunrise.

Mercury aligns with Earth and the sun about 13 times a century, the space agency said. The last time the event took place was in 2006.

As looking at the sun directly can be damaging to the naked eye, the event requires a telescope or high-powered binoculars fitted with solar filters made of specially-coated glass or Mylar in order to be viewed safely, according to NASA.

Those who lack the proper equipment can view the alignment live on their computers by watching NASA TV or visiting the agency’s Facebook page from 7:30 a.m. PT to 8:30 a.m. PT. that day.