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Mercury poised for rare “transit” over sun’s face today

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CAPE CANAVERAL — Stargazers will have a rare opportunity today to witness Mercury fly directly across the face of the sun, a sight that unfolds once every 10 years or so, as Earth and its smaller neighboring planet come into perfect alignment.

The best vantage points to observe the celestial event, known to astronomers as a transit, are eastern North America, South America, Western Europe and Africa, assuming clouds are not obscuring the sun. In those regions, the entire transit will occur during daylight hours, according to Sky and Telescope magazine.

But Mercury is too small to see without high-powered binoculars or a telescope, and looking directly at the sun, even with sunglasses, could cause permanent eye damage.

Fortunately NASA and astronomy organizations are providing virtual ringside seats for the show by live-streaming images of the transit in its entirety and providing expert commentary.

The tiny planet, slightly larger than Earth’s moon, will start off as a small black dot on the edge of the sun at 7:12 am Eastern (1112 GMT). Traveling 30 miles (48 km) a second, Mercury will take 7.5 hours to cross the face of the sun, which is about 864,300 miles (1.39 million km) in diameter, or about 109 times larger than Earth.

“Unlike sunspots, which have irregular shapes and grayish borders, Mercury’s silhouette will be black and precisely round,” Sky and Telescope said in a press release.

The event will come into view in the western United States after dawn, with the transit already in progress. The show will end at sunset in parts of Europe, Africa and most of Asia.

NASA Television, available on the Internet, will broadcast live video and images from the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory and other telescopes. The show includes informal discussions with NASA scientists, who will answer questions submitted via Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.

Reuters

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2 injured as bomb goes off at Ward Chair’s house

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DAMAK — An unidentified group detonated a bomb at the house of Bhim Poudel, a Ward Chairperson of the Damak Municipality Ward Number 7, last night, injuring two people including a woman.

The injured were hit by shrapnel due to the explosion. The explosion has also caused minor damages to the house which is located some 500 metres to the east of the Area Police Office, Damak.

It was a powerful explosion and it is not known who carried it out, police said.

Those injured in the incident are Semu Rai and Tilochan Pokhrel who had come to visit their relatives at the house next to Poudel’s house.

Both them who have been wounded in the hands and legs are being treated at the Lifeline Hospital in Damak. Rai is a staff at the same hospital.

Police has started an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, the Nepal Communist Party led by Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav) has today issued a press release saying those playing main role in evicting the landless squatters in the disputed market area in Damak. It had specifically named Wrad Chair Poudel and Mayor Romnath Oli.

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