A transit can only take place when the Earth, Mercury and the Sun are exactly in line in three dimensions. Such transits are rare; current will be the fourth of 14 to happen this century. This time, the transit will be visible in a lot of regions (including Euope and Africa), but folks in North and South America will have the best view.
Mercury last passed across the sun in May 2016.
"Because Mercury is so small from our perspective on Earth, you'll need binoculars or a telescope with a certified Sun filter to see it", said NASA.
Mercury's tiny disk, jet black and perfectly round, covers a tiny fraction of the sun's blinding surface - only 1/283 of the sun's apparent diametre.
A Mercury transit, as it's called, occurs only 13 times in 100 years, according to NASA, and it won't be seen from North America again for another 30 years, or from anywhere until 2032. Another use of transits is the dimming of sun or star light as a planet crosses in front of it.
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Prior to the year 1585, Mercury transits took place in the months of April and October. Periodic, fleeting dips of starlight indicate an orbiting planet. Instead, projections using protectively covered telescopes could work, according to Space.com.
You will also be able to watch the entire event online with several organisations live-streaming the transit, including the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, The Virtual Telescope Project and Slooh.
These two nodes are located at points in Earth's orbit where transits could be possible in May or November. Volunteers, mostly students spread across more than a dozen sites in the USA, will equipment identical to each other to take simultaneous images of the transit, allowing them to replicate the historical experiment.
Transits provide a great opportunity to study the way planets and stars move in space - information that has been used throughout the ages to better understand the solar system and which still helps scientists today calibrate their instruments. During a transit, the interceding body is not sufficiently large to cover whatever it's moving in front of.