GODFREY — The Nature Institute invites the community to watch a rare celestial event: the Mercury transit.
The transit Viewing Party will be at 6 a.m. Monday, May 9, at the city of Alton’s Heartland Prairie on the north side of Gordon Moore Park at 4550 College Ave. The transition will start around 6:12 a.m. and guests can continue to watch with on-site astronomical enthusiasts until 1 p.m. This event is family-friendly, free and open to the public.
The transit takes place as the planet crosses paths with the sun. Because of Mercury’s position in the solar system, it passes between the sun and Earth, which causes a black dot on the sun’s face. This dot will be visible to the majority of the planet on May 9. The last transition of Mercury happened in 2006 and the next date will not occur until 2019.
Mercury is a small planet and it will not be seen with the naked eye. The viewing party will help those interested in seeing this phenomenon by viewing it through equipment. Local amateur astronomers Steve Sands and Eddie Agha will be present with telescopes and knowledge to offer facts for participants.
TNI continues to host monthly Astronomy Association Meetings on the third Thursday of every month. The next date is 8 p.m. Thursday, May 19. Host Agha will lead a talk about current astronomical events and take the group outside to view the night sky. These events are free and open to the public and take place at TNI, 2213 S. Levis Lane in Godfrey.
The Nature Institute is a conservation and environmental organization with a mission of raising awareness of the natural world through preservation, restoration and education. The institute owns more than 450 acres of protected land, much of which have hiking trails. These trails are open to the public every day from dawn to dusk. To learn more about TNI and other upcoming events, visit www.TheNatureInstitute.org.