Science

Mercury’s Sun moment thrills sky gazers

Mercury (small dot on the top) passes in the front of the Sun as seen fromBengaluru onMonday. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K

Mercury (small dot on the top) passes in the front of the Sun as seen fromBengaluru onMonday. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

Mercury’s rare transit across the Sun on Monday was cheered by enthusiasts across the country, with professional and amateur astronomers positioning their telescopes towards the planet in the evening sky for a closer look.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bengaluru had arranged for different modes to view the rare event and the skies remained clear, enabling a good view. Apart from the Newtonian telescopes set up on the planetarium campus, a Coude telescope was set up on the terrace. Sun-spotters were also kept alongside, with volunteers helping the viewers spot Mercury against the fiery backdrop of the Sun. Live telecasts from different centres in India and abroad were arranged.

“I was born in 2003, so I missed it the last time,” said enthusiast Supratim Jash, a class seven student, who had made his father, Soumitra Jash, a scientist, take off early from work to accompany him.

In Chennai, at 4 p.m. several people queued up at the Periyar Science and Technology Centre, which also houses the planetarium, to watch the celestial event. The Birla Planetarium set up three telescopes for the enthusiastic visitors, while two other scopes projected the image on to a small screen. Some people who had come to the planetarium used welding gear to try and look at the sun.

Rare occurrence

In Vijayawada, children and youngsters of Krishna Lanka spotted Mercury moving slowly as a tiny dot in front of the Sun.

Mercury’s transit occurred from 4.40 p.m. to 6.28 p.m., lasting 1.48 hours. A five-inch Newtonion reflector telescope was used to spot the rare occurrence, said a participant.

Cloudy weather in Hyderabad left sky gazers disappointed. The persistent few, however, managed to join rest of the world to get a glimpse of the celestial event when clouds parted for a brief two minutes before sunset in the city.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 6:05:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/Mercury%E2%80%99s-Sun-moment-thrills-sky-gazers/article14310309.ece

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