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Partial solar eclipse seen from space

partial-solar-eclipse-seen-from-space

The new Moon passed briefly in front of the sun, positioning itself between SDO spacecraft and Sun, producing a partial solar eclipse on February 21 at 14:11 UTC (about 9:11 a.m. EST). No ground observers could spot it, it was visible only from space.  It was a fairly shallow transit, but the Moon covered a bright active region. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) took stunning image from geosynchronous orbit approximately 36,000 km above Earth’s surface using a bank of 16 megapixel cameras. You can watch the movie of this eclipse thanks to Steele Hill, SDO Media Specialist at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

As the Moon flew in between the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Sun, the event was snapped by the solar-seeing satellite, producing multi-filtered views of this mini-eclipse as seen in video above. This kind of event gives SDO engineers a way to fine-tune the observatory’s calibration as well. The sharp edge of the lunar limb helps researchers measure the in-orbit characteristics of the telescope, how light diffracted around the telescope’s optics and filter support grids. Once these are calibrated, it is possible to correct SDO data for instrumental effects and sharpen the images even more than before.

The next solar eclipse visible from Earth’s surface occurs on May 20, 2012: video

Images courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

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