A rare astronomical event will be visible in the skies above Ireland today 4 weeks ago

A rare astronomical event will be visible in the skies above Ireland today

The next transit of Mercury won’t take place until 2032.

Most of the time in Ireland, a glance up at the skies usually leads to an all too familiar sigh about the weather conditions, but time spent gazing upwards should be worth your while before darkness descends this evening.

A rare astronomical event known as the Mercury transit, which occurs when Mercury passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, is due to take place between midday and the hours of sunset in Ireland on Monday (approximately 4pm).

A free viewing event (small donations will be requested) will be held at Astronomy Ireland HQ in Blanchardstown on Monday, where members of the public will be able to see the transit of Mercury with the aid of the most powerful telescopes in the country.

For those unable to attend the viewing, Astronomy Ireland has sounded a note of caution to anyone hoping to view the event using their own telescopes or binoculars, warning in a post on its website: “The transit of Mercury is a rare occurrence and exciting to see, but looking through your telescope or binoculars directly at the sun is VERY DANGEROUS and could result in immediate and permanent blindness, so be sure to come out to the Astronomy Ireland offices to watch the transit safely.”

More details on the viewing event are available here.

According to NASA, the Mercury transit happens approximately 13 times in a century and from the perspective of people on Earth, it will look like a tiny black dot gliding across the face of the Sun.

It last occurred in 2016 (see below) and isn’t due to happen again until 2032 so it’s worth trying to catch now rather than having to wait another 13 years.

Clip via NASA's Marshall Flight Space Center

If conditions aren’t great or you can’t get outside to see it for yourself (taking note of the precautions outlined above, of course), a live stream of the event will be available below.

Clip via CosmoSapiens