Today, Mercury visibly passed in front of the sun. Powerful telescopes captured its movement:
We're able to see Mercury cross the sun only about 13 times per century, making today's event relatively rare.
There are a few reasons to get excited about the transit—as Slate's Phil Plait explains, our view of Mercury's movement across the sun is comparable to our view of exoplanets orbiting distant stars, and offers an example of how we search for habitable planets outside of our solar system.
But astrology fans might be excited about Mercury's transit for a different reason—this time around, Mercury's transit coincides with Mercury's being in retrograde.
Those of us hoping that there is a shred of scientific truth in accuracy were hoping that, at the very least, the trick that makes it look like Mercury retreats around the sun during retrograde would be reflected in our telescopic view of it's transit. This is not the case.
In an email, NASA representative Karen Fox said that "the retrograde illusion does not affect the view across the sun." She explained:
The way Earth moves in relation to the sun and Mercury can change the way the transit path looks depending on where you’re viewing it from on the ground. In the fixed plane of the sun, however—as NASA viewed it through the Solar Dynamics Observatory— Mercury’s path is always straight.
Fair enough, but we're still waiting until June to buy any new tech gear.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.