Minnesota Starwatch

by Deane Morrison

On the 9th of May we’re treated to the spectacle of a small black dot crawling across the sun’s face. This is a rare transit of Mercury, when the little planet zips between Earth and the sun.

The show runs from 6:13 a.m. to 1:42 p.m. CDT A small telescope will reveal the planet’s journey, but viewers must take the same precautions as with an eclipse to protect both telescopes and eyes. Mercury’s transit comes on the heels of its April visit to the evening sky, when it had just emerged from behind the sun.

Not to be outdone, Mars reaches the climax of its 2016 appearance in the early morning of the 22nd, when Earth laps the red planet in the orbital race and it shines opposite the sun in the sky. At opposition, as it is called, Mars will be a mere 47.4 million miles away, blazing like a fiery ruby just beyond the claws of Scorpius. It rises at sunset and stays up all night, moving from southeast to southwest and reaching its highest point in the sky around 1 a.m.The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

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