NASA announced that a rare cosmic event will take place next week. During the event, which can be viewed from Earth, Mercury will pass directly in front of the Sun.

The transit of Mercury, also known as the Mercury-Sun transit occurs when the planet passes in front of the Solar System’s host star. According to astronomers, this event only occurs about 13 to 14 times per century. Following the upcoming event, the next transit will occur sometime in 2032.

According to NASA, the transit takes place because Mercury is only one of the two planets within the Solar System that orbit closer to the Sun than Earth. The other planet that is known to cross the Sun is Venus. The agency noted that the Mercury-Sun transit will occur on Nov. 11.

"The sky will put on a stellar show on Nov. 11, 2019, as Mercury crosses in front of the Sun," NASA said in a statement. "From our perspective on Earth, we can only ever see Mercury and Venus cross in front of, or transit, the Sun, so it's a rare event you won't want to miss!"

As noted by NASA, the transit will begin on Nov. 11 at 7:35 a.m. EST and will last for over five hours. During this period, Mercury will line up perfectly with the Sun and will appear as a tiny dot from Earth.

As strongly advised by the agency, those looking forward to catching the event should do so in a safe manner since it involves looking directly at the Sun. The simplest way to do this is by following the pinhole projection method, which involves viewing the Sun’s projected image on a piece of paper.

But, since Mercury will appear as a tiny speck in front of the Sun, those who don’t have special telescopes with Sun filters can still witness the event through public viewing sessions held by local astronomy facilities.  

“With the proper safety equipment, viewers nearly everywhere on Earth will be able to see a tiny dark spot moving slowly across the disk of the Sun,” NASA stated. “Because Mercury is so small from our perspective on Earth, you'll need binoculars or a telescope with a Sun filter to see it. You might also be able to attend a viewing party at a local museum or astronomy club event.”

Sun & Mercury Mercury’s proximity to the sun and small size make it exquisitely sensitive to the dynamics of the sun and its gravitational pull. Photo: NASA/SDO