UNCW to Host Free Viewing of the Transit of Mercury May 9

Friday, May 06, 2016

Mercury will pass in front of the sun on May 9, an event that hasn’t been seen in almost a decade.

Witness the transit of Mercury, beginning at 12:45 p.m. on May 9, at a viewing area near the sundial in front of DeLoach Hall on the UNCW campus. DeLoach is located beside Randall Library. Telescopes will be set up to allow individuals to safely view the event. Filters will be provided to protect viewers’ eyes from the sun. Watching the event without proper filters could result in the damage of the retina, according to Brian Davis, a professor with the UNCW Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography.

Mercury will appear as a small black disk silhouetted on the solar disk of the sun. Transits are fairly rare, Davis said, with the next transit occurring in 2019. He will talk about the astronomical phenomena and the prediction of transits during the event. The viewing is free and open to the public.

“I attempt to observe all interesting astronomical events, and I try to get as many interested people as I can to view them with me,” he said. “After nearly three decades of teaching astronomy, I have had an incredible number of astronomical viewings for so many people that I can’t go to a public area in Wilmington without someone telling me how much they appreciated the astronomical experiences I had given them.”

-- Venita Jenkins