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Mercury is going to pass across the sun next week – and it will be visible from London

Samantha Willis

Mercury, that pesky planet (seemingly always in retrograde), is taking a little trundle past the sun next week, and you’ll be able to see it right here in the capital! 

Ordinarily, Mercury spins around the Sun every 88 days, but its orbit is tilted relative to the Earth’s so you don’t see it passing by. On Monday November 11 however, our boy Mercury will cross directly between the Sun and the Earth, blocking out a fraction of the Sun’s rays in the process (hello, teeny eclipse).

The transit will be visible in London (and the rest of the UK) from 12.35 GMT.

Royal Observatory Astronomer Gregory Brown gave us these top tips: ‘As the transit begins near midday, the Sun will be relatively high in the sky and be visible from almost anywhere. To ensure this is the case for those wishing to observe the transit, make certain your southern and western horizons are low and that your eye line is free from trees or high buildings.

While eclipse glasses are a safe way to attempt to view the Sun during the transit, the silhouette of Mercury will be too small to see in any detail. Instead, if possible, try using a telescope with a fitted solar filter. Do not try to use simple coloured film or plastic as these are not designed for this purpose and risks permanent damage to your eyes.’ 

Alternatively, avert all possible crises by watching the Royal Observatory Greenwich livestream at 12.25pm on November 11 instead. 

Miss this one and you’ll miss out, there won't be another Transit of Mercury until 2032!

Looking for a place to pitch your telescope? Here are 9 stellar stargazing spots in the city

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