Astronomers are ready for a special out of this world experience.

Next week, on Monday, May 9, skywatchers on Earth will be able to see Mercury make its way across the surface of the sun.

The so-called Transit of Mercury occurs only about 13 times every century, and the next one won’t take place until 2019.

There’s a chance for people in Huddersfield to see the phenomenom.

Gain Lee, of Huddersfield Astronomical Society, said: “It will be a rare-ish astronomical event next Monday.

“The planet Mercury will pass in front of the Sun as seen from Earth. The times are approximately between 12 noon and 7pm.

Transit of Mercury; the planet is seen on the left of the sun

“There will be an observing party using specially adapted telescopes at the Huddersfield Observatory at Crosland Hill for the event. Members of the public are welcome from from 3pm.”

The event will be visible either partially or in full throughout most of the world. The event will not be visible in Japan and other parts of eastern Asia; Oceania and the nearby island nations; or Antarctica, according to a statement from the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

Samantha Gildea explains how it works below

Video thumbnail, Sam on mercury
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Because Mercury and Venus are the only solar system planets that lie between the Earth and the sun, they are the only planets that transit the star as seen from Earth.

Transits can be seen from other planets, too; in 2014, NASA’s Curiosity rover observed a transit of Mercury from Mars.

Huddersfield astronomer Gain Lee

Although both Mercury and Venus circle between the Earth and the sun on every orbit (with Mercury passing between the two bodies three times each Earth year), the three planets don’t sit in a flat orbit compared to one another.

Only when Earth and a passing planet line up is the interior world visible to skywatchers as it crosses the sun.

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Edmund Halley (1656 - 1742), the English scientist and astronomer who gave his name to the famous comet, having accurately predicted its arrival, circa 1740, was the first to record the full transit of Mercury in 1677,

MERCURY FACTS

Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System

It is the one closest to the Sun,with an orbital period of about 88 Earth days

It is named after the Roman deity Mercury, the messenger to the gods.

Surface temperature varies from minus 173°C to an astonishing 427°C

Because Mercury orbits the Sun within Earth’s orbit (as does Venus), it can appear in Earth’s sky in the morning or the evening, but not in the middle of the night.