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Solar eclipses caused by Earth

Don’t miss these images of eclipses of the sun caused by Earth, taken by various spacecraft on the moon, orbiting the moon, or returning from the moon.

An eclipse of the sun by Earth.  This fascinating view was created when the Earth moved directly between the sun and the Apollo 12 spacecraft, as it returned from the moon in November, 1969.  Read more about this photo.

An eclipse of the sun by Earth. This fascinating view was created when the Earth moved directly between the sun and the Apollo 12 spacecraft, as it returned from the moon in November, 1969. Read more about this photo.

With the excitement this weekend surrounding the eclipse of the moon came a couple of fascinating leads on images of solar eclipses caused by the Earth. The one above is perhaps the most dramatic. It’s an eclipse of the sun by Earth, recorded with a 16mm motion picture camera from the Apollo 12 spacecraft during its trans-Earth journey home from the moon in November, 1969. Read more about the photo above. Thanks to Alfons Gabel in Germany for telling us about this image!

Another member of the EarthSky community, Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, pointed us to a black-and-white version of the eclipse seen by Apollo 12 astronauts in 1969:

Black and white version (unenhanced?) of the eclipse of the sun by Earth, seen by Apollo 12 astronauts in 1969.  Read more about this image.

Black and white version of the eclipse of the sun by Earth, seen by Apollo 12 astronauts in 1969. Read more about this image.

Eclipse of the sun by Earth, seen from the moon by Surveyor III in 1967.  Read more about this photo.

Eclipse of the sun by Earth, seen from the moon by Surveyor 3 in 1967. Read more about this photo.

And there are more images of eclipses of the sun by Earth, taken by various spacecraft over the years. The image at right is a color-reconstituted photograph. NASA says it is the first one ever to record an Earth-eclipse of the sun. It’s from the Surveyor 3 lunar lander, which witnessed the eclipse from a crater in the moon’s Mare Cognitium. J.J. Rennilson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said on this NASA history page, that this eclipse …

… is the first one in which man has been able to observe an eclipse of the sun by his own planet. Surveyor 3 took the view from the moon with the wide-angle mode of its TV camera.

Most prominent in the picture is the white cap of light caused by the bending of the sun’s light as it passed through the Earth’s atmosphere. The cap is much brighter than the rest because of the sun’s proximity to that limb, causing a greater proportion of sunlight to be refracted. The beaded appearance around the remaining portion of the Earth’s atmosphere is due largely to the interruption of the band of light by overcast areas.

And, finally, check out the image below, from Japan’s Kaguya lunar orbiter taken on 9, 2009:

Eclipse of the sun by Earth on February 9, 2009 as seen by Japan's Kaguya lunar orbiter.  Read more about this photo.

Eclipse of the sun by Earth on February 9, 2009 as seen by Japan’s Kaguya lunar orbiter. Read more about this photo.

Click here to play a movie of Earth moving in front of the sun, as seen by Kaguya.

NASA said of Kaguya:

Kaguya is the largest mission to the moon since the Apollo program. Launched in late 2007, the spacecraft consists of a mother ship plus two smaller orbiters that work together to relay data to Earth even from the moon’s farside. Kaguya bristles with 13 scientific instruments powered by 3.5 kilowatts of electricity, enough to light up good-sized home on Earth. So far the spacecraft has laser-mapped the moon’s surface in 3D, searched polar craters for signs of lunar ice, probed the gravitational field of the farside of the moon — and much more.

The eclipse images are a bonus …

Bottom line: Images taken by various spacecraft of eclipses of the sun, caused by Earth.

Deborah Byrd

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