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May 9/10, 2016 — Mercury Transit

This Transit of Mercury was visible for at least several hours in most of the world, including the US, Canada, Europe, South America, Africa, and most of Asia.

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The Transit was not visible to the naked eye – you needed specialized viewing equipment to see it. Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection. You can seriously hurt your eyes and even go blind.

Was this Mercury Transit visible in Washington DC?

2016 Mercury Transit Animation

The animation shows what the 2016 Mercury Transit approximately looked like from Earth.

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Mercury's path in front of the Sun is almost a horizontal line. However, throughout the day, the angle from which we observe the Sun from Earth, makes it look like it passes in a curve (see animation). Exactly how it looks, varies according to your location on Earth.

Where the 2016 Mercury Transit Was Seen

Regions seeing at least some parts of the transit: Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica.

Expand for cities that could see at least part of the full transit

Was this transit visible in Washington DC?

Solar Eclipse Path

Transit was visible.

Transit was not visible.

Shades of darkness


Astronomical Twilight (Sun was 12 - 18 degrees below the horizon).

Nautical Twilight (Sun was 6 - 12 degrees below the horizon).

Civil Twilight (Sun was 0 - 6 degrees below the horizon).


All of the transit was visible.

Parts of the transit was visible.

Transit was not visible.

It is the longest Transit of Mercury transit this century lasting about seven and a half hours. The last one which was longer was in May 1970. In May 2095, there will be another almost as long.

When the 2016 Mercury Transit Happened Worldwide — Timeline

Planet transits are normally visible from all locations where the Sun is up. However, because of different viewing angles, the start and end times can vary by a few minutes. The times below are actual times (in UTC) when the transit is visible.

EventUTC TimeTime in Washington DC*
First location that saw the partial transit beginMay 9 at 11:10:25May 9 at 7:10:25 am
Geocentric** partial transit began (ingress, exterior contact)May 9 at 11:12:18May 9 at 7:12:18 am
First location that saw the full transit beginMay 9 at 11:13:37May 9 at 7:13:37 am
Geocentric** full transit began (ingress, interior contact)May 9 at 11:15:30May 9 at 7:15:30 am
Mercury was closest to the Sun's centerMay 9 at 14:57:25May 9 at 10:57:25 am
Geocentric** full transit ended (egress, interior contact)May 9 at 18:39:12May 9 at 2:39:12 pm
Last location that saw full transit endMay 9 at 18:41:05May 9 at 2:41:05 pm
Geocentric** transit ended (egress, exterior contact)May 9 at 18:42:24May 9 at 2:42:24 pm
Last location that saw partial transit endMay 9 at 18:44:17May 9 at 2:44:17 pm

* Local times shown do not refer to when the transit could be observed from Washington DC. Instead, they indicate the times when the transit began, was at its midpoint, and ended, somewhere else on Earth. The corresponding local times are useful if you wanted to view the transit via a live webcam. Times should be accurate to a few seconds.

** The geocentric times refer to a theoretical situation where the transit is viewed from the Earth's center. They are used to provide an approximately average time schedule for astronomical events. Because of varying perspectives, observers on the Earth's surface will experience the transit at slightly different times depending on their location.

Geocentric duration of this Mercury Transit is 7 hours, 30 minutes, 6 seconds.

Transits and eclipses visible in Washington DC

Previous Venus Transit was on Jun 5 – Jun 6, 2012.

Next Mercury Transit will be on Nov 11, 2019.


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