Stunning footage of Mercury travelling across the face of the sun has been released by NASA. The 'Mercury transit' took place on Monday (9 May 2016). The spectacle occurs around 13 times every century, with the last one seen in 2006.

The planet, appearing as a small black dot on the sun's surface, took seven-and-a-half hours to cross the sun, travelling at 30 miles a second.

Explaining the transit in more detail, heliophysics scientist Lika Guhathakurta said, "What happens here is two celestial bodies approach each other from our vantage point, and so during a transit, you see, a smaller body celestial body gets in front of a larger body, cutting across the disc".

The transit takes place when Mercury passes between Earth and the sun. The next one is due to take place in 2019, and then after that in 2032. The last event of its kind took place in 2006.

Martin Barstow, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, said, "It is always exciting to see rare astronomical phenomena, such as this transit of Mercury. They show that astronomy is a science that is accessible to everyone".

The Mercury transit is too small to see without high-powered binoculars or a telescope, but NASA live-streamed the event online for people to watch the rare occurrence.