SWINDON Stargazers has been granted permission by the National Trust to observe the next transit of Mercury at Avebury.

It takes place on Monday and the next time it will be visible from the UK is in November 2019.

The last transit of Mercury, visible from the UK took place back in 2003 and was a precursor to the much rarer transit of Venus in 2004.

And unlike a solar eclipse, Mercury is far too small and too far away from the Earth to blot out the Sun.

The Stargazers say they will be equipped with various telescopes and cameras, especially adapted to safely view the sun while they watch the progress of the transit.

The transit starts just after noon and progresses until 7.45pm. But the start of the transit is regarded as the most interesting part when just as the tiny inky black disc of the planet becomes visible against the huge power and glare of our Sun.

The club is offering the public a chance to join them on the momentous occasion to get a unique perspective on the mechanics of the solar system when club members will be on hand to help answer any questions and ensure the transit is viewed safely.

The Stargazers will have their equipment near the National Trust cafe and barn, behind the Red Lion pub, at Avebury from 11.30am with the transit expected to start at 12.11pm.

A spokesman for Swindon Stargazers said that just as with any solar event, looking at the sun without specially designed equipment is extremely dangerous and would almost certainly permanently damage eyesight.

"At the moment we have a 50/50 chance of clear skies," says the club.

"Never give up though. Last year's partial eclipse looked very unlikely, but just ten minutes before first contact and the clouds cleared."

For further information on the planned event go to: www.swindonstargazers.com, the Stargazers Facebook page at www.facebook.com/swindonstargazers or contact Rob Slack on 01793 634555.