New Delhi: As Mercury wanders directly in front of the Sun on Monday, beginning at 7:12 am EST (4:42 pm, India time), here are some key facts about the planet and this relatively rare astronomical phenomenon.
- Mercury is the smallest planet of our solar system, the closest to the Sun, the fastest moving and nearly the hottest, second only to Venus - which contains a high percentage of carbon dioxide.
- Mercury orbits the sun every 87.97 days, rotating on its axis every 58.65 days.
- The May 9, 2016 transit of Mercury is visible in its entirety across the eastern US, and South America, western Europe and western Africa. For western North America, the sun rises with Mercury already transiting.
- During the whole transit for Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and much of the eastern coast of Asia, the sun is below the horizon.
- There are about 13 or 14 transits of Mercury each century.
- Compared to the last Mercury transit in 2006, Mercury's silhouette is slightly larger and will spend more than two hours longer crossing the sun.
- The next Mercury transits will occur on November 11, 2019, November 13, 2032, and November 7, 2039 --14 times in the 21st Century.