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Observations confirming the belief that Mercury, closest planet to the sun, has no atmosphere, were made today at the Harvard Observatory in Bloemfontein, South Africa, as the tiny body made one of its rare transits across the face of the sun.
Dr. John S. Paraskevopoulos, in charge of the Bloemfontein station, cabled the University Observatory that when Mercury was seen silhouetted against the sun there were no signs of any luminous ring around the body. His observations were made with an eight inch visual telescope.
If Mercury had an atmosphere, the sun's light would be diffused in passing through, causing the appearance of a halo around the planet, University astronomers explained.
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