Transit of Mercury – Tuesday 12th November

Mercury transit

Japan’s Hinode spacecraft captured this image of Mercury passing in front of the Sun on 8th November 2006, using the spacecraft’s Solar Optical Telescope instrument.

Image credit: JAXA/NASA/PPARC

In This Post –

Transit of Mercury

Our next public meeting



Transit of Mercury

This Tuesday morning (12th November) people in New Zealand may view the planet Mercury passing across the sun. This is called a transit of Mercury. It’s a rare event that won’t be seen from Earth again until 2032.


The smallest planet in the solar system is also the closest to our star, and occasionally it crosses in front of the sun’s bright disk from our perspective here on Earth. The last time this happened was in 2016, but after this Tuesday’s transit, we’ll have to wait another 13 years to see the next one. The planet will look like a tiny traveling blemish on the sun’s face as it passes in front of the sun.

The Earth is 12,756 km in diameter.

Mercury is 4879 km in diameter.

Mercury will be approx 101 million km away from the Earth during the transit.

Mercury transit

Image credit: JAXA/NASA/PPARC


Our President David Greig posted this article on Facebook –

As the Sun is rising on Tuesday 12th November, the planet Mercury will be transiting, that is, passing across in front of the Sun, and will be visible (using a suitable solar filter) as a tiny black dot against the Sun. The Sun will not rise above the ocean horizon until about 6.05am.  The transit of Mercury will be complete by 7:04am by which time the Sun will be only 11.5 degrees above the eastern horizon.  The horizon is often obscured by cloud due to the horizontal viewing angle. We will not be able to view the transit from our Tauranga Observatory because we can view eastern objects only to as low as 22 degrees above the horizon. The terrain and trees block our view.


Mercury (arrowed) will transit the sun on Tuesday morning.

The transit of Mercury will be visible only by looking through a suitable telescope or binoculars with a solar filter attached. Please remember that a solar filter MUST be used to look at the Sun – either directly or through any optical device.  A #12 or darker replacement welder’s lens can be used to view the Sun.  These cost just a couple of dollars and can be bought at most hardware or engineering supply stores.  Some of the lenses are more cloudy than others so I recommend asking the store if you can step outside with one (#12 or darker) to see how sharp and well defined the Sun looks through it before buying.


Tilting the welding lens as you look through it will further reduce the brightness of the Sun, making viewing easier. However because the Sun’s angular size is only half a degree across, Mercury will be very difficult to see directly.


The welder’s lens can also be attached in front of your camera to take photos or a video of the Sun, but be sure that it is securely attached because if it falls off, your camera sensor may be damaged or destroyed. Do not attach the welding lens to any optical viewing device such a telescope or binoculars because if the lens falls off or breaks instant blindness will result.


Filtered glasses



Our next public meeting –

This Tuesday 12th November 2019

Our telescopes will be operating


On 12th November –

The Moon will be visible northeast.

Jupiter and Venus will be in the western sky.


At 7.30pm the on-screen presentation will be –

Final on the solar system’s moons –

New evidence found at Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa. There is great potential for future exploration with the possibility of life in the huge seas below the frozen surface.



In summary –

Tuesday 12th November

Fergusson Park Observatory, Tilby Drive, Matua, Tauranga.

Viewing – both astronomical and on-screen

On-screen program at 7.30pm –

Solar System’s moons


Admission to our meetings –

Door entry $5.

Members & children free.


Annual subscriptions are due –

$30 each adult

or $40 each family

$10 students.

Payment on-line or

cash at meetings.

No EFTPOS facility available.


On-line payment is easy, to –


Bank account number

03 0435 0659752 00

Please indicate

“Subscription” and your name.

Once payment is received your nametag(s) will be available at subsequent meetings.



Telescope viewing possible only with zero or minimum cloud cover.


Happy skies everyone.



Kevin Patmore


Tauranga Astronomical Society


TAS large




Affliated With:


With funding support from:


Slooh Space Camera


NASA astronomy picture of the day