Transit of Mercury – 11th November 2019
Mercury will be passing between the Earth and the Sun on 11th November. It will appear as a small black dot travelling across the face of the Sun. Provided the weather allows a view. The transit will start at about 12.30 (lunchtime), and will still be in progress when the Sun sets at about quarter past four. The planet will appear to move from left to right, approximately across the middle of the Sun. It will have travelled perhaps about two thirds of the way across by the time the Sun sets in Guildford.
IMPORTANT NOTE – WARNING – Never look at the Sun without using suitable eye protection.
The kinds of glasses which can be purchased for viewing solar eclipses are the correct thing to use for direct viewing.
If using equipment (e.g. binoculars, telescope or camera), then use a filter which has been produced specifically for the purpose of solar observation. These can be purchased ready-made, or can be made at home using the correct filter material (e.g. Baader AstroSolar Safety Film, or similar) and carefully following the maker’s instructions. Make sure that a protective filter as described above is securely attached to the front end of the equipment (two filters in the case of binoculars!). This will protect the equipment, as well as your eyes, from damage.
Please note that regular photographic or astronomical filters (e.g. polarising, neutral density, or “Moon” filters etc) will not provide sufficient protection and must not be used. If using a telescope, make sure that the caps remain in place on the finder scope, to avoid the risk of anybody inadvertently looking through it.
If you have any doubts about the safety or suitability of your protective glasses or filters, then please do not use them, and do not look at the sun. Whilst the transit will be an interesting event to observe, it is not worth risking your eyesight for! BE VERY CAREFUL!
Of course the transit will potentially be observable from almost anywhere, but Pewley Down in Guildford looks to be a pretty good place to get a good view. It is an elevated location, which will permit the transit to be seen right down to the horizon at sunset, should the clouds choose to part and allow us a view. It is also fairly handy for Guildford town centre (albeit at the top of a big hill!).
If the weather forecast suggests there is at least half a chance of seeing something, I plan on being there for the afternoon (from noon onwards). I will be somewhere on the grassy area not too far away from the top end of Fort Road. Look out for a tripod or two standing on the grass, and that will most likely be me. If you would like to join me there for any part of the afternoon, please do!
Free car parking is available nearby in Fort Road and Pewley Hill. Each road has some parking bays with 2 hour time limits and some with 4 hour limits, so probably not quite suitable for parking to observe the whole event. But they might be useful if you wish to pop along for just an hour or two. Of the two roads, I have a feeling that Fort Road is likely to have a larger supply of free spaces. There is unrestricted (no time limit, no charges) parking available slightly further away in Warren Road and Tangier Road, with access to Pewley Down via a footpath from Warren Road (don’t forget to bring a torch for the walk back to your car if you park here!).
If you will forgive me, I am not proposing to give any last minute update messages saying “go” or “no go” based on the weather forecast. That might just be too stressful!! The nature of the event is such that I think it will be simpler for you to make your own mind up, based on your own reading of the weather forecast. I hope that is OK.
Fingers crossed for some clear sky and good viewing!
Post code for Fort Rd, GU1 3TE
Post code for the junction Warren Rd & Tangier Rd GU1 2HG