A transit of the innermost planet Mercury across the face of the sun is coming up May 9, 2016. People with telescopes and solar filters will see Mercury as a tiny black dot moving across the sun’s face. The transit starts Monday morning, according to clocks in North America. Meanwhile, if you could view Mercury on the dome of Earth’s sky right now (you can’t because it’s too near the sun’s glare), you’d find it where this video shows it – near the sun and getting closer! Larry Koehn – who runs the great website shadowandsubstance.com – told EarthSky he’s maintaining this video on a daily basis. It shows the field of view of the SOHO sun-watching satellite.
Larry commented on the fact that Venus is also coming into to view; its superior conjunction with the sun, when it will pass behind the sun from Earth’s vantage point, will take place on June 9:
Venus right now is approaching the sun from the right. Later this month, The Pleiades (M45) will too approach and pull away from the sun. Venus is going to appear much, much brighter than Mercury, because we are seeing its sunlit side.
Mercury, right now, is showing its night side.
Bottom line: Video showing Mercury in early May, 2016, as it inches toward the sun, prior to the May 9, 2016, transit, when Mercury will cross the sun’s face as seen from Earth.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.