Mercury to partially eclipse sun today

Mercury moving across the sun, November 2006 (Photo: edhiker/Wikimedia Commons). Mercury moving across the sun, November 2006 (Photo: edhiker/Wikimedia Commons)

A relatively rare Mercury transit will happen today. The small planet will partially eclipse the sun as it moves between the sun and the earth, NOS reports.

Due to Mercury's elliptical orbit, a Mercury eclipse can be seen from earth only 13 times per century. The last time that the earth, Mercury and the sun were in a row was in 2006. The next one is expected on November 11th, 2019 and then only again in 2032.

The partial eclipse will start at 1:12 p.m. Dutch time. The entire transit will take 7.5 hours.

As the planet is so small, the eclipse will not be visible with the naked eye. Astronomers warn those who want to follow the phenomenon with a telescope to do so very carefully. Put a special solar filter on the telescope or project the sunlight through a telescope onto a piece of paper.

Easier and safer would be to watch the partial eclipse through planetarium's special solar telescope. The Oude Sterrewacht observatory in Leiden is open today for the occasion. You can also follow it live via NASA's