A rare transit of Mercury over the disc of the Sun will take place in the afternoon of Monday 9 May, which will also be visible from India. This phenomenon takes place when Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, will be seen as a small black dot travelling across the solar disc. From the Earth, this phenomenon is seen when Mercury passes between the Sun and the Earth and these three entities are lined up in one plane.

This occurrence, of Mercury passing between Earth and the Sun, takes place only about 13 times a century. The last time this happened was in 2006. It occurs in the months of May and November. The next transit of Mercury will take place on 11 November, 2019 but the event will not be seen from India as the same will begin after sunset in India; hence the next Mercury transit that will be visible from India will be on 13 November, 2032.

The transit of Mercury will be visible from most of Asia, Europe, Africa, Greenland, South America, North America, Arctic, North Atlantic Ocean and most of the Pacific Ocean. The duration of the entire transit event will be about 7 hours and 30 minutes and in India, the beginning of the event will be visible from all places. “Depending upon the sunset time of different places in India, the observer located in the extreme east of the country will see the event about 1 hour from the beginning and the observer located in the extreme west of the country will see the event about 2 hours and 45 minutes from the beginning," says Ministry of Earth Sciences.

In Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, the event will begin at 4:41 p.m. In Delhi, the event can be seen for a duration of about 2 hours 20 minutes, in Kolkata about 1 hour 26 minutes, in Mumbai about 2 hours 24 minutes, and in Chennai about 1 hour 45 minutes.

It will be difficult to see the Mercury at transit over the face of the Sun without some form of aid such as binoculars or telescopes. The Earth Sciences ministry suggested that a proper solar filter will be required to avoid viewing the sun with the naked eye such as aluminized mylar, black polymer or welding glass of shade number 14.

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