Warning: Looking directly at the Sun, either during the transit or at any other time, can cause permanent damage to the retina, leading to loss of vision or blindness.

Watch the transit of Mercury with the Royal Astronomical Society: 9 May 2016

On 9 May 2016 a transit of Mercury will take place, when the planet passes directly between the Earth and the Sun. Transits are rare - this is the first event of its kind since 2006, and the first seen in the UK since 2003 – and after this the next ones are in 2019 and then 2032.

If the weather is clear, then the UK should enjoy a good view of the transit on 9 May. The whole event runs from 1212 BST to 1942 BST, when Mercury will appear as a slowly moving silhouetted disk against the bright solar surface.

Because the planet is so small, it only blocks out a tiny part of the light of the Sun. This means it is impossible to see Mercury, and dangerous to try to observe it with the unaided eye, or using a telescope or binoculars without approved specially designed filters.

To allow the public to experience and observe the transit in safety, the RAS is running a special event in the courtyard of Burlington House. Experts will be on hand to operate telescopes with safe solar filters, and a projection device, to give people the chance to see the transit at first hand.

If you would like to come along, Society staff will be on hand from 1200 BST until at least 1600 BST, and probably until the Sun sets over our neighbouring buildings. The telescopes and equipment will be set up outside the Royal Academy.

As well as the live observing event, we will be hosting a live feed of the transit in the RAS lecture theatre, and a special mini-exhibition of Mercury materials in the RAS Library. Both of these rooms are located in our building on the opposite side of the courtyard to the telescopes.


The location of the Royal Astronomical Society in central London. The Society is in the courtyard of Burlington House, off Piccadilly. The nearest tube stations are Piccadilly Circus and Green Park.

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