transit of Mercury
Fr.: transit de Mercure
The crossing the face of the Sun by the planet Mercury, as seen from Earth. Because the plane of Mercury's orbit is not exactly coincident with the plane of Earth's orbit, Mercury usually appears to pass over or under the Sun. On the average it occurs 13 times each century when the Earth is near the → line of nodes of Mercury's orbit. The three last transits were on 2003 May 07, 2006 November 08, and 2016 May 09. The next one will be on 2019 November 11. The first observation of a transit of Mercury was on November 7, 1631 by Pierre Gassendi. On June 4, 2014 NASA's Mars rover Curiosity photographed a transit of Mercury, marking the first time such a phenomenon has ever been imaged from the surface of a planet other than Earth. See also → black drop.