Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

221,499 subscribers and counting ...

MESSENGER spacecraft sees lunar eclipse from Mercury

The MESSENGER spacecraft, now orbiting Mercury, caught the images to make this movie of last Wednesday’s lunar eclipse. See Earth and moon from Mercury!

Earth and Moon from Mercury orbit, with Moon entering eclipse.  Imaged on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 by MESSENGER, a spacecraft in orbit around Mercury.

Earth and Moon from Mercury’s orbit, with moon entering eclipse. Imaged on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 by MESSENGER, a spacecraft in orbit around Mercury. Image via NASA / JHU / APL. MESSENGER

The MESSENGER spacecraft – which has been orbiting the sun’s innermost planet Mercury since 2011 – made this movie of the the Hunter’s Moon passing into the Earth’s shadow on October 8, 2014. The movie consists of 31 MDIS NAC (Mercury Dual Imaging System Narrow Angle Camera) frames taken two minutes apart from 09:18 UTC to 10:18 UTC on October 8. MESSENGER made the movie from a distance of 107 million kilometers / 66 million miles.

Notice the orientation of bright side of Earth. Earth’s shadow always extends in the direction opposite this bright side – or day side – approximately 1,400,000 kilometers / 1,000,000 miles into space. On October 8, the moon passed into the shadow, causing the eclipse.

The images have been enlarged 2 times and the moon brightened 25 times. The Earth was five pixels wide and the Moon one pixel wide.

The Earth – moon pair appeared in front of the constellation Aries, near the border of the constellation Pisces, as seen from Mercury.

The Earth was very bright magnitude minus 4.38 and the Moon was magnitude minus 0.03.

Read more from Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society

Bottom line: The MESSENGER spacecraft, now orbiting Mercury, caught the images to make this movie of last Wednesday’s lunar eclipse. See Earth and moon from Mercury!

Andrew R. Brown

MORE ARTICLES