The forthcoming Transit of Mercury in May will be marked with a special event at The Open University campus.
And the public are invited to be there.
Transits occur when a planet closer to the Sun than the Earth passes directly across the Sun’s face, showing up as a tiny black dot.
Researchers will be giving members of the public a chance to view planet Mercury as a black dot silhouetted against the Sun at the Mercury Transit Festival on the OU’s Milton Keynes campus.
The coming transit of Mercury will last from 12:12 to 19:42 on May 9 and this is the best opportunity to see a transit of Mercury from the UK since 1973.
Timing the start and the end of the transit from different locations of the globe is a way to determine the Earth-Sun distance.
“I’ve been studying spacecraft images of Mercury for a long time, and I’m looking forward to the transit just to see it in a different way, rather than as an opportunity to discover anything,” said Professor Rothery.
“Renowned astronomer Edmund Halley famously observed a transit of Mercury across the Sun in 1676 from the south Atlantic island of St Helena, where he had been sent to catalogue the stars on the southern sky.”
The Mercury Transit Festival event will be open to the public at the OU between 16:00 to 20:00.
Entry is free for the OU Mercury Transit Festival, but registration is necessary: