View the Transit of Mercury through telescopes on the open roof observatory at Appalachian

View the Transit of Mercury
Monday, November 11, 2019
8:30 am - 1:00 pm
What to watch for: The transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun
Location: Rankin GoTo telescope facility, third floor of Rankin Science South Building, 572 Rivers St, Boone, N.C.

This event is free and open to the public.
Parking is available at the Rivers Street Parking Deck (*there may be a fee for parking), across the street from the Rankin Science Building.

Transits of Mercury (and Venus) across the face of the Sun are somewhat rare. The last transit of Mercury was May 9, 2006, and the next after this one will be November 13, 2032. Transits of Venus are even less frequent, the last being in 2012 (we had public viewing of that one from Appalachian), and the next one is in almost a century, in 2117!

The event will appear in a properly filtered telescope as a small black dot slowly crossing the Sun. The dot is too small to see with the naked eye using solar eclipse glasses. And, you should never look at the Sun without a proper, special solar filter that covers the entire front lens or entrance aperture(s) of a telescope, camera, or binoculars.

These events are now mostly an astronomical curiosity, but in the 1700s, transits of Venus timed from across the Earth were used to measure the distance to the Sun to a precision of 3%.

For questions, contact Dr. Daniel B. Caton, Ph.D., professor and director of observatories in the Department of Physics and Astronomy,

 Caton and colleagues will try and stream the event on Facebook -- search for Dark Sky Observatory for the live video!

**In the event of bad weather, please check back to see if event changes or a cancellation has occurred. **


About the Department of Physics and Astronomy
The Department of Physics and Astronomy’s curriculum has an applied nature that includes a core of fundamental physics courses and laboratory experiences. The department prepares graduates for a variety of scientific, teaching or engineering professions, as well as future educational endeavors. Learn more at

An image of the GoTo laboratory on the roof of Rankin Science at Appalachian State University. Photo by Dan Caton.
Published: Nov 5, 2019 9:00am