Mercury, the Earth and the sun. These roomates have been staying in the same living quarters for a very long time but rarely do the three ever cross paths. When these guys do hang out, ever so briefly (once every decade or so), it’s a celebrated event. Take, for example, May 9, 2016: the day Earth was around to catch Mercury basically give a quick cosmic wave to the Sun as it went on its way.
At first the Earth almost didn’t even notice little Mercury’s short seven hour “planetary transit” because the Solar System’s tinniest planet is 300 times smaller than the sun. Seriously, there are sunspots bigger than Merc’.
So, you’re probably wondering why the the two planets and Mr. Sun so rarely meetup, right? Basically they’re all on different schedules and take different paths. Unlike our Earth, Mercury orbits the sun on a tilt so it’s super rare for all three to line up directly.
The next time we’ll get to witness Earth, Mercury and the sun enjoying each others company will be on Nov. 11, 2019 and on an unknown date in 2032. We’re sure they’ll have many things to catch up on by then.
Can’t get over space? Neither can we. Here’s a spacey video to hold you over until the next planetary transit: