Your Monday is about to get a lot better, especially if you’re on the East Coast. At 7:35 am ET, you’ll get the clearest view of a rare celestial event, as Mercury transits the Sun from our vantage point for the first time since 2016. This is an event we’re only able to witness from Earth about 13 times per century. In fact, the next time you’ll able to watch Mercury cross in front of the Sun is in 2032, which means you probably won’t want to miss it this time around.
It’ll take Mercury five and a half hours to complete its transit, so you’ll have until 1:04 pm ET to catch the event. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stare directly at the Sun — protective eyewear is recommended. Check out NASA’s eye safety tips for viewing transits and eclipses.
For those of you who won’t get a chance to see the event in person, you can watch Mercury’s transit across the Sun in the live stream below:
Mercury actually completes a full orbit around the Sun every 88 days, but it’s not often that it does so from an Earth-friendly vantage point due to its “eccentric, egg-shaped orbit,” according to NASA. Due to this unusual orbit, the fastest planet in our Solar System, traveling through space at 29 miles per second, can get as close as 29 million miles and as far as 43 million miles from the Sun. For comparison, Earth is about 93 million miles from the star.
As you’d expect, the first planet in our Solar System can get MUCH hotter than Earth, reaching temperatures higher than 800 degrees Fahrenheit or as cold as minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit since Mercury has no atmosphere with which to retain heat. Basically, don’t expect to find any signs of life on this celestial hellscape.
I leave you with my favorite scene from my favorite science fiction movie, Danny Boyle‘s Sunshine. Chris Evans (before he was Captain America), Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Hiroyuki Sanada, and the rest of the movie’s killer ensemble cast gather in their spaceship’s observation deck to watch Mercury transit the Sun on their way to reignite the star and save Earth from a chilly death: