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Observing the transit of Mercury

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Refracting telescope fitted with a special solar filter.
Photo: Espace pour la vie

IMPORTANT WARNING
Never look at the Sun directly, unless you place a specially designed filter in front of your eyes.
How to safely observe the Sun

During the transit, Mercury will appear like a tiny black dot measuring about 1/158th of the Sun’s diameter — too small to be visible without magnification.

In order to fully appreciate the event, it will be necessary to use a telescope fitted with a special solar filter and capable of a minimum magnification of 50- to 100-power. The Sun’s image can also be projected on a screen with a pair of binoculars or small telescope. In this case, a filter should not be used. However, the setup must be monitored at all times to ensure that no one accidentally looks through the optics.

Under all circumstances, please follow the tips and techniques on how to safely observe the sun for a safe and enjoyable observation of the transit.

An invitation

Those who wish to safely observe the transit of Mercury, can join a team of astronomers and science presenters from the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium and volunteers from the Société d’astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal [http://www.sapm.qc.ca] this May 9. Starting at 7:00, until the end of the event, you are invited to meet on the square in front of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium at 4801, avenue Pierre-De Coubertin (Viau metro). In case of poor weather conditions, or if the sky is too cloudy, observation of the transit will not be possible, and the event will be cancelled.

See you there!

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