Mercury crossed directly in front of the Sun ("transit the Sun") on Wednesday, November 8, 2006. Such direct alignments of the inner planets with the Sun are rare! The next Mercury transit of the Sun will not be until the year 2016. Venus transited the Sun in 2004 and it will transit again in 2012, but the next Venus transit after that will not be until 2117!
Select the pictures below to bring up larger pictures of the transit as seen with the planetarium's Solarscope. The Solarscope uses a small telescope and a small convex mirror to reflect the projected image onto a white cardboard surface that surrounds the small telescope.
Mercury transit at 1:05 PST
The figure below illustrates the important events of the transit from first contact (at time "I") to midpoint (at time "Greatest") to last contact (at time "IV"). The diagram is adapted from NASA's Eclipse Man, Fred Espenak (link will appear in a new window). Note that 13:41 PST is 1:41 PM in Bakersfield and 16:10 PST is 4:10 PM in Bakersfield.
For more about this Mercury transit, see (all links will appear in a new window):
last updated: November 23, 2006
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel