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Mercury Transit on November 8, 2006
News story originally written on November 6, 2006

The planet Mercury will cross in front of the Sun on Wednesday, November 8, 2006. When that happens, astronomers call it a transit. A transit is like a solar eclipse. An eclipse happens when the Moon passes in front of the Sun. A transit happens when a planet passes in front of the Sun. Planets are much further away than the Moon, so they look much smaller. A planet does not completely cover the Sun during a transit like the Moon does during an eclipse.

There will be 14 transits of Mercury this century. This one will be the second. The last transit of Mercury before this one was in 2003. The next won't be until May 9, 2016.

Only two planets ever transit the Sun. The two planets are Mercury and Venus.

Transits of Venus are very rare. They only happen about two times every 100 years! In the 1700's astronomers used transits of Venus to make the first good measurement of the distance between Earth and the Sun.

Last modified November 6, 2006 by Randy Russell.

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