This infrequent astronomical phenomenon involves movement of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun.

The duration of this event is predicted to be 7 hours and 30 minutes. However, space lovers in India will be able to see it just for 2 hours and 45 minutes, starting from 4:41 pm IST.

Hugely depending on the sunset, different places across the nation will witness the event for different periods of time. Places towards East will see the transit for 1 hour, while those on the West, like Gujarat will see it for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Optical magnification will be required to see the movement of Mercury across the Sun. People will have to either use specifically made telescopes which are attached with solar filters, or they will have to make projection of sun's image on white board.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences issued a notice saying it would be highly advisable to see the event using glasses specially crafted for such purposes. Looking at the sun with naked eye is totally discouraged.

The last Mercury transit happened in the year 2006 when only extreme Northeastern part of the country was able to view the phenomenon. The next such movement of the planet across sun's face will happen in the year 2019 but Indians will not be lucky enough to see it because it will start after sunset time of all places in the country.

Hence, the ones living in India will have to wait for November 13th, 2032 when the transit will be visible again. This beautiful occurrence happens when the sun, the earth and the Mercury are aligned in one single plain. Also, owing to its miniature size compared to the huge star, Mercury appears as a black dot.

This uncommon stellar occurrence happens 11 or 12 times in a year and mostly in the months of May and November.

By: JPN/Ira Shukla

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