Mercury and I were both in transit today. As the little planet sped across the vast solar disk I traveled 150 miles from Duluth to Minneapolis to attend a family funeral. The weather kept my transit interesting — sunny in Duluth, cloudy in Moose Lake, snowing in Pine City followed by sunshine in Hinkley. Each minute that expired, Mercury moved another millimeter and I another mile.
We stopped at two gas stations where I shared the planet’s progress through a small telescope with curious passersby. Maybe it’s Minnesota but people felt comfortable wandering up and asking directly “What are you looking at?” One guy on his way north to Duluth stepped up to the scope, looked in and exclaimed that Mercury looked like a “pimple,” a wonderfully accurate description.
Mercury Transit November 11, 2019. NASA’s orbiting captured Mercury’s smooth moves today in several different “flavors” of ultraviolet light. Enjoy!
I caught views of the transit at the beginning, middle and an hour before it ended. My favorite part by far was the middle. Hovering near the solar center, the petite planet appeared engulfed by the sun, as if it might vaporize in a poof. But Mercury never veered from its course and departed the disk just after noon as rock-solid as it entered. U.S. observers won’t see a repeat performance until Nov. 7, 2049. By that time I expect to be transiting on to the afterlife.