A rare and amazing astronomical event is set to take place Monday, May 9th. Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system, will pass directly between the Sun and Earth, and thus it will partially eclipse the sun. This event is called the transit of Mercury and it is the biggest and rarest astronomical events of 2016 — only happens 14 times in 100 years.
The ‘young’ Earth may have swallowed a Mercury-like planet billions of years ago, a collision which providing our planet’s layers and generate Earth’s magnetic field creating the perfect conditions required for life to flourish.
Mercury is the last of the classical planets, the planets known to the astronomers of Egypt and Greece and Rome and the Far East. It’s an object that has captivated the imagination and the attention of astronomers for millennia.
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are known as the rocky planets, in contrast the Solar System’s gas giants-Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, writes Time. Yet Mercury doesn’t quite fit with the other rocky worlds, Erik Asphaug, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, said in a statement.
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and due to its proximity it is not easily seen except during twilight. For every two orbits of the Sun, Mercury completes three rotations about its axis and up until 1965 it was thought that the same side of Mercury constantly faced the Sun.
A spacecraft sent by NASA to explore the planet Mercury made a discovery which astronomers not expected. Messenger spacecraft mapped for the first time the entire surface of the planet Mercury including areas that had not been seen before.