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5 fast facts about Mercury’s eclipse of the sun

WATCH ABOVE: It's a rare event for astronomers as Mercury passes between the Earth and the sun. As Global's Kelly Greig reports, it's not visible to the naked eye, but can easily be seen with a telescope that has a solar filter.

MONTREAL – Stargazers and solar system lovers are looking up into the sky Monday as Mercury eclipses the sun between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. for the first time since 2006.

Here are five things you need to know if you want to view the closest planet to our star:

Get a telescope

Don’t try to see Mercury with the naked eye – the planet is 1/158th the size of the sun.

“It’s so little it won’t block the light, so it would be exactly like looking directly at the sun,” said Loïc Quesnel with the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.

“We’d burn our eyes in a matter of seconds.”

Montrealers take turns looking at the Mercury eclipse of the sun, Monday, May 9, 2016.
Montrealers take turns looking at Mercury eclipsing the sun, Monday, May 9, 2016. Kelly Greig/Global News

Research opportunities

Looking at the planet through a telescope with a solar lens can help astronomers measure the distance between the planet and other celestial bodies.

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Mercury is eclipsing the sun between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday, May 9, 2016.
Mercury is eclipsing the sun between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday, May 9, 2016. NASA

A rare occurrence

Mercury passes between the sun and the Earth 13 times every century.

The next eclipse will take place in 2019, and after that, you’ll have to wait until 2032.

All about alignment

The Earth, Mercury and the sun need to be perfectly aligned for the eclipse to be visible from our planet.

Mercury’s orbit is inclined by about seven degrees compared to the Earth, so there’s only two locations on the trajectories where they could possibly align.

WATCH BELOW: Discovering Mercury

Don’t forget Venus

There are only two planets between the sun and the Earth: Mercury and Venus.

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While eclipses of Mercury are rare, it’s even more so for Venus.

Since the invention of the telescope in the 1600s, the Venus eclipse has only been viewed eight times.