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Despite partially cloudy sky, Kolkatans witness Mercury transit

Despite a partially overcast sky in the city, enthusiasts on Monday viewed the passage of the Mercury across the sun after a gap of 10 years. The city had geared up for watching the spectacular sight and various arrangements were made at various places so that people can have glimpses of the Mercury transiting the sun disc.

Pashchim Banga Bigyan Mancha had distributed protective eye gear for the enthusiasts. Science City also organized the viewing of the event through telescopes fitted with special solar filters and solar-viewing goggles. Scientists have, however, warned people against directly looking at the Sun without adequate precautions. This may cause permanent eye damage.

Astronomers were very enthusiastic about Wednesday’s event, as this will be the last time this century that such an event would be visible. For the last time the Mercury transited the Sun in 2006.

But, many of the people from various parts of the city who had tried to watch the astronomical event complained that they were staring at the sun at every regular interval from the morning but they could not see the transit of Venus on the sun. Some people opined that the event could not be witnessed from this part of the country.

According to astronomers, the transit of Mercury is a very rare planetary alignment. “The size of mercury being very small in comparison to the sun, it appeared just like a dot on the solar disc,” Director of Positional Astronomy Centre (PAC) Sanjib Sen said.

Referring to the transit of Venus that took place on June 6, 2012, Sen said the angular diameter of venus is 6 times that of mercury and so the observers had a much better view of that astronomical event. 

The next transit will be seen in Nov 13, 2032. The transit of Mercury began at 4.41 pm and ended at 6.07 pm in West Bengal. 
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