November 10, 2019

Public Can View Mercury's Shadow At Rose-Hulman Observatory

The planet Mercury is seen in silhouette, lower third of image, as it transits across the face of the sun Monday, May 9, 2016, as viewed from Boyertown, Pennsylvania.  Mercury passes between Earth and the sun only about 13 times a century. - NASA/Bill Ingalls

The planet Mercury is seen in silhouette, lower third of image, as it transits across the face of the sun Monday, May 9, 2016, as viewed from Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Mercury passes between Earth and the sun only about 13 times a century.

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Oakley Observatory will open its doors to visitors to witness the planet Mercury crossing the face of the sun. 

Starting at 8 a.m. Monday, guests visiting the Terre Haute observatory will have access to seven telescopes outfitted especially for solar viewing. 

Oakley Observatory Director Dominic Ludovici described what the crossing will look like to spectators. 

"What's going to happen is from the point of view of Earth we're going to see a small black spot move across the surface of the sun...basically, [we're] seeing the planet Mercury's shadow," he said. 

The solar event is often difficult to see from Earth. Ludovici said most people can only see it once per decade. It won't be visible again until 2032. 

A visit with Oakley Observatory is the best way guests can ensure they witness the event without damaging their eyes. He also said it can help offer perspective on the scale of space. 

"It's one of those events that, one, kind of puts our place in the universe kind of in perspective," Ludovici said. 

Parking is available in a lot near Rose-Hulman's east entrance, located at Hunt road and north of the intersection of U.S. 40 and Wabash Avenue. The program is free and open to the public. 

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