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Portland, Oregon Coast, Washington Get View of Transit of Mercury

Published 11/06/2019 at 6:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Portland, Oregon Coast, Washington Get View of Transit of Mercury

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(Portland, Oregon) – Back in 2012, Portland and the Oregon coast were able to witness an astounding astronomical event: the tiny shadow of the planet Venus moving across the face of the sun (photo above). That is, if you had the right equipment. It's called the transit of Venus.

Portland, inland Oregon, the coast and Washington and its coastline get to witness much the same thing this Veteran's Day, - Monday, November 11 - but this time it's the farthest inward planet of our solar system, Mercury, that gets the spotlight. The transit of Mercury will happen in the Pacific Northwest starting a couple hours before sunrise, but will be visible from when the sun comes up (7:04 a.m.) until just a little after 10 a.m.

Look to the east, said Portland's astronomy whiz.

“A transit of Mercury is a rare celestial event: it is the observed passage of the planet Mercury across the disk of the Sun,” said OMSI astronomer and planetarium manager Jim Todd. “It occurs when Mercury, orbiting the sun ‘on the inside track,' catches up to and passes the slower Earth.”

For those viewing this movement of Mercury, the planet will appear as a small dot in the foreground, going from left to right across the southern portion of the sun. If the weather is permitting (and by the looks of forecasts it will be in this region), Todd said most of the world will be able to see this stellar wonder. A total of five and a half hours, the transit can be seen in the U.S., South America, Africa and Europe.

“Unfortunately, Portland viewers will miss the first part of the Mercury Transit for the first 2.5 hours, and low above the horizon,” Todd said. “We recommend finding an unobstructed area with free sight to southeast with a low horizon to best view the transit.”

He added the Oregon coast will be at a bit of a deficit as well because of the coast range hills directly behind the beach towns. However, since the phenomena lasts until at least 10 a.m., coastal visitors and residents should be able to see it for awhile, as the sun likely pops up behind the hills after 8 a.m. or so and keeps rising in the sky.

“I think Marys Peak near Corvallis will be the best view, as that has a pretty clear view to the east, if I remember right,” Todd said.

Todd urged extreme caution, however, not to check this out with the naked eye. Even eclipse glasses will cause severe injury to your eye.

“It is important not to view any of this transit activity without eye protection or without using indirect viewing techniques,” Todd said. “Viewers should use only an approved solar filter which blocks dangerous ultraviolet and infrared radiation as well as visible light. Please note that solar eclipse glasses paired with binoculars or telescopes do NOT do the trick; in fact, this method is even more dangerous than staring at the sun without safe eye protection.”

The safest way to view the transit is to watch live images from telescopes around the world.

Time and Date Live Stream: https://www.timeanddate.com/live/

Griffith Observatory's Live Stream: http://www.griffithobservatory.org/events/Transit_of_Mercury_2019.html

See Oregon Coast Weather -- Washington Coast Weather

Facts:

Transit starts at 4:35 a.m., about 2 hours and 29 minutes before local sunrise.

Sunrise in the Portland area is in the ESE at 7:04 a.m., two degrees above the horizon. Times will differ greatly between southern Oregon coast and northern Washington.

Greatest movement occurs at 7:20 a.m. when Mercury is closest to the center of the sun.

Transit ends at 10:03 a.m., when sun is at 22 degrees. Mercury then exits the lower west of the sun. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour








Below: photos of the planet Venus over Cannon Beach (at bottom)

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