Home > Astronomical Event, Ephemeris Program, Transit > 12/31/2015 – Ephemeris – Next year’s big astronomical event

12/31/2015 – Ephemeris – Next year’s big astronomical event

December 31, 2015

Ephemeris for New Years Eve, Thursday, December 31st.  The Sun will rise at 8:20.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 5:11.   The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:56 this evening.

The big astronomical event of 2016 will be the passage of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun on May 9th.  This type of event is called a transit.  Back in 2012 we saw the transit of Venus, an extremely rare event that won’t be repeated for over 100 years.  Transits of Mercury are not so rare.  The next will be in three years.  It also will not be as impressive as a transit of Venus because Mercury is a tiny planet and looks smaller than a small sunspot on the Sun.  It cannot be seen without a solar filtered telescope.  The actual Transit will last about 7 ½ hours.  Should it be clear for all or part of that time members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be at two locations to show the event.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Path of Mercury across the face of the Sun

Path of Mercury across the face of the Sun from east to west. Credit IOTA/Occult4

Transit of Mercury visibility map. Click on the Image to view a higher resolution pdf. Credit; Astronomical Almanac Online/USNO

Transit of Mercury visibility map. Click on the Image to view a higher resolution pdf. Credit; Astronomical Almanac Online/USNO

       TRANSIT OF MERCURY GEOCENTRIC PHASES
                                              Position
                                   UT          Angle 
                               d  h  m   s        °
Ingress, exterior contact  May 9 11 12 17.6     83.2
Ingress, interior contact      9 11 15 29.5     83.5
Least angular distance         9 14 57 25.3    153.8
Egress, interior contact       9 18 39 12.8    224.1
Egress, exterior contact       9 18 42 24.8    224.4

Least angular distance from the center of the Sun: 5' 18".5
Position angle:  Contact point measured counterclockwise from the north
   point on the face of the Sun.
UT = Universal time A.K.A. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT or Zulu).  
   Subtract 4 hours to obtain Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) for
   most of Michigan.  In short the transit will span from
   7:12 a.m. to 2:42 p.m.

Above time-table is from Astronomical phenomena for 2016  Credit:  USNO/UKHO

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