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Astronomy buffs in the Louisville area will have a chance to safely view a relatively rare celestial event when the planet Mercury passes in front of the sun.

The transit begins early Monday morning.

A Mercury transit observation program will be held at the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville. Visitors can view the event through specially filtered telescopes from 7 a.m. until it ends at 2:42 p.m.

The program will be led by members of the Louisville Astronomical Society. It’s free, but there is a $2 charge to park at the Falls Interpretive Center.

The last Mercury transit was in 2006; the next one comes in 2019.

Viewing the sun without the proper solar filters will cause permanent eye damage.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."