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Mercury passes across sun’s face in rare 5-hour transit

WATCH ABOVE: Mercury travels across sun in transit

Mini Mercury skipped across the vast, glaring face of the sun Monday in a rare celestial transit.

Stargazers used solar-filtered binoculars and telescopes to spot Mercury — a tiny black dot — as it passed directly between Earth and the sun on Monday.

Planet Mercury is seen as a small silhouette, center left, as it travels across the face of the sun, near capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.
Planet Mercury is seen as a small silhouette, center left, as it travels across the face of the sun, near capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The eastern U.S. and Canada got the whole 5 1/2-hour show, weather permitting, along with Central and South America. The rest of the world, except for Asia and Australia, got just a sampling.

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READ MORE: How to watch Mercury’s transit across the sun on Monday

Mercury is the solar system’s smallest, innermost planet. The next transit isn’t until 2032, and North America won’t get another shot until 2049.

This still image from video issued by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows Mercury as it passes between Earth and the sun on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The solar system’s smallest, innermost planet resembles a tiny black dot during the transit, which began at 7:35 a.m. EST (1205 UTC).
This still image from video issued by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows Mercury as it passes between Earth and the sun on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. The solar system’s smallest, innermost planet resembles a tiny black dot during the transit, which began at 7:35 a.m. EST (1205 UTC). (NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory via AP)

In Maryland, clouds prevented NASA solar astrophysicist Alex Young from getting a clear peek. Live coverage was provided by observatories including NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Searching for Mercury
Searching for Mercury

“It’s a bummer, but the whole event was still great,” Young wrote in an email. “Both getting to see it from space and sharing it with people all over the country and world.”

At Cape Canaveral, space buffs got a two-for-one. As Mercury’s silhouette graced the morning sun, SpaceX launched 60 small satellites for global internet service, part of the company’s growing Starlink constellation in orbit.

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