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Mini Mercury skips across sun’s vast glare in rare transit

Mercury, center left, passes between Earth and the sun, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, as seen from Lutherville-Timonium, Md. The solar system's smallest, innermost planet resembled a tiny black dot during the transit, which began at 7:35 a.m. EST. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Mercury, center left, passes between Earth and the sun, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, as seen from Lutherville-Timonium, Md. The solar system's smallest, innermost planet resembled a tiny black dot during the transit, which began at 7:35 a.m. EST. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Mini Mercury skipped across the vast, glaring face of the sun Monday in a rare celestial transit.

Stargazers used solar-filtered binoculars and telescopes to spot Mercury — a tiny black dot — as it passed directly between Earth and the sun on Monday.

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Viewers look on during a brief break in the clouds to see a transit of the planet Mercury as it crosses the face of the sun Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, as seen from Seattle. Mercury and Venus are the only planets that can appear to pass in front of, or transit, the sun as seen from Earth. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The eastern U.S. and Canada got the whole 5 ½-hour show, weather permitting, along with Central and South America. The rest of the world, except for Asia and Australia, got just a sampling.

Mercury is the solar system’s smallest, innermost planet. The next transit isn’t until 2032, and North America won’t get another shot until 2049.

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This still image from video issued by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows Mercury as it passes between Earth and the sun on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory via AP)

In Maryland, clouds prevented NASA solar astrophysicist Alex Young from getting a clear peek. Live coverage was provided by observatories including NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory.

“It’s a bummer, but the whole event was still great,” Young wrote in an email. “Both getting to see it from space and sharing it with people all over the country and world.”

At Cape Canaveral, space buffs got a two-for-one. As Mercury’s silhouette graced the morning sun, SpaceX launched 60 small satellites for global internet service, part of the company’s growing Starlink constellation in orbit.

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