Planet Mercury Sun event to be visible from France

Mercury will appear as a tiny dot against the colossal Sun, in an event that will not happen again until 2032

The planet Mercury is to pass in front of the Sun early next week, in a rare sight that will be partly visible from mainland France.

On Monday November 11, the smallest planet in our solar system will pass in front of the Sun - a phenomenon that will not happen again until 2032.

Mercury, which has a radius of 2,349 km and a diameter of 4,879 km (compared to Earth’s 6,371 km radius and 12,756 km diameter) will appear as a small dot in front of the huge Sun, which is 300 times’ larger, at 700,000 km radius (1,400,000 km diameter).

(Image: Observatoire de Paris / obspm.fr)

The cosmic event will be partly visible from mainland France, and will begin from 13h15 on November 11. The event will not be 100% visible, however, as the Sun will set in Europe before it ends.

(Image: Observatoire de Paris / obspm.fr)

Those who wish to witness it will need to be prepared in advance, as it is never advised to look directly at the Sun due to the risk of “irreversible” eye damage.

As a result, astronomy research centre the Observatoire de Paris has advised the public to use a suitable “solarscope” to view the event.

This means using astronomy glasses or a telescope equipped with a “solar filter with a ‘mylar’ density of 5, to avoid all irreversible ophthalmological accidents”, the Observatoire said.

Mylar solar filters block out a certain amount of solar radiation, which would otherwise damage the eye.

The public is invited to visit the Observatoire if they wish to see the event, as the centre will be offering mobile telescopes for use - with proper solar filter equipment - on its Meudon site.

The phenomenon will also be visible online, through a livestream on the Observatoire website. This will be filmed from the Pic de Château-Renard mountain, in Saint-Véran (Hautes-Alpes), which has an altitude of 2,936 metres, and is “known for the quality of its sky”.

And while mainland France will not see the entire show, people in French overseas territories will have more luck; Guadeloupe, Saint-Pierre, Miquelon, Guiana and Martinique will be able to see the event from the morning onwards, catching the entire spectacle before sunset.

The Observatoire has created a table (below) showing the visibility of the event by location and time, including major towns and cities in France, and abroad.

(Image: Observatoire de Paris / obspm.fr)

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