Rare stargazing opportunity in Eastbourne

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A rare chance to see Mercury make its way over the disc of the sun will be able to be viewed across Eastbourne next month.

Eastbourne Astronomical Society will be holding a free Stargazing at the Redoubt Fortress event to mark the occasion, which will see Mercury passing right over the sun, on Monday May 9.

The last time this was observable from Eastbourne was in 2006, but this time the entire event can be viewed from the whole town.

The astronomical event, called a Transit, starts at 12.12pm and Mercury reaches mid-transit by 3.57pm.

The next Transit of Mercury visible from Eastbourne will be on May 7 2049.

Keith Brackenborough from the Eastbourne Astronomical Society said, “Quite a rare astronomical event occurs on Monday May 9 – a Transit of Mercury over the disc of the sun.

“Mercury is the smallest of all the planets only just over half the size of Earth.

“About every 116 days it passes the sun as viewed from Earth, mostly either north or south of the sun but occasionally it appears to pass right over the sun and this is known as a Transit.

“It is extremely dangerous to look directly at the sun but the society has adapted two of its telescopes to allow safe observing of the small spot, which is Mercury, making its way slowly over the disc of the sun.

“With luck we may be able to see some Sunspots too.

“Local amateur astronomers will be on hand to describe the event and answer any questions.”

The telescopes will be situated on the Gun platform of the Redoubt aimed at the Sun.

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