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May 9, 2016 - A Cosmic Crossing

A Cosmic Crossing  At 11:12 UTC (7:12 AM EDT) on May 9, the planet Mercury will begin its transit of our home star, an astronomical event that will be visible across all of the Americas, western Europe, and Africa. It will take seven and a half hours for the innermost planet to complete its journey across the face of the Sun. Transits of Mercury always occur around the same times in the months of November or May. The May transits are more rare but feature a slightly larger Mercury, as the planet is then at its farthest point from the Sun (aphelion) and thus a bit closer to Earth. The last May transit occurred in 2003, and is seen here in an ultraviolet image from NASA’s Transition Region and Coronal Explorer satellite. The next November transit occurs in 2019; the next May transit not until 2049.

Image credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio / Sam Freeland (LMSAL) / Dawn Myers (GSFC) / Carolus J. Schrijver (LMSAL)

Weekly Calendar

May 9-15, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Monday 9

Mercury transit across Sun (entire event visible from E. Americas, W. Europe)

2003: Hayabusa launched, first mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid

Tuesday 10

1900: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin born
M2-F2 lifting body crash-lands; footage later becomes opening scene of “The Six Million Dollar Man”

Wednesday 11

1974: SMS-1 launched, first geostationary weather satellite
2009: STS-125 Atlantis launched, fifth and final Hubble servicing mission

Thursday 12

1930: Adler Planetarium opens, first planetarium in Western Hemisphere

Friday 13

First Qtr Moon 1:02 PM ET

1964: Apollo A-001 launched (Little Joe II test flight)

Saturday 14

Astronomy Day (spring)

1973: Skylab launched
2009: Herschel and Planck space observatories launched
2010: STS-132 Atlantis launched

Sunday 15

Whit Sunday - Pentecost

Jupiter 2° north of Moon

1857: Williamina Fleming born
: Sputnik 3 launched
1963: Faith 7 launched, last Mercury program flight
1997: STS-84 Atlantis launched, sixth Mir docking mission
2012: Soyuz TMA-04M launched carrying ISS Expedition 31/32 crew

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.