Witnessing Mercury in Transit

Posted by York & U on May 10, 2016

Events | York & U | York Community

Woman looking through telescope
Student volunteer Sophia showing us how it’s done. York Observatory director Paul Delaney in the background.


Yesterday the York community was in for a special treat: in bright sunlight on a warm spring day, students, staff, faculty and anyone visiting campus could make their way to the York Lions Stadium and press their eyes to one of several telescopes set up there by the York University Observatory and the Astronomy Club at York to witness the planet Mercury in transit across the Sun. Anyone who missed the event yesterday will have to wait another three years for a second chance; Mercury’s crossing of the Sun won’t be visible in Canada again until 2019.


A steady stream of visitors took advantage of the occasion between 9am and 2pm, peering through the telescopes equipped with solar filters to observe what looked like a distinct black spot moving steadily across the Sun. Student volunteers and Paul Delaney, a professor in the Physics & Astronomy program and director of the York Observatory, were on hand to answer any pressing questions about Mercury’s travels or related events, while the stadium’s main scoreboard displayed the goings-on for anyone who did not at that moment have prime place at a telescope.

Two women looking through a telescope


Woman looking through telescope under the gaze of a male observer


Men standing around a telescope. A scoreboard showing Mercury in the background.


Interested in more stargazing? York’s Observatory is open to the public on Wednesday nights, from April to September between 9pm and 11pm, and from October to March between 7:30pm and 9:30pm.


Did you have the chance to witness Mercury’s transit? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @yorkustudents.