This image is from an eclipse yesterday (September 19, 2011) of the sun our local star, by Earth our home planet. It’s from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is now in its twice-yearly eclipse season.
In other words, that darkness in front of the sun is us – our planet. SDO’s current eclipse season started on September 11 and will last until October 4.
From its geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) above Earth’s surface, SDO has eclipse seasons twice a year near each equinox. For three weeks, the SDO orbit is such that Earth passes repeatedly between SDO and the sun. These eclipses can last up to 72 minutes in the middle of an eclipse season.
SDO also took the full-sun image below. It shows the current conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the sun. Isn’t it beautiful?
Click here to expand image above
The full-sun image is from the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly instrument at 171 Angstrom.
SDO launched on February 11, 2010, on an Atlas V from SLC 41 from Cape Canaveral.
Bottom line: These two images are from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) – in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth. The upper image shows Earth eclipsing the sun yesterday (September 19). The lower image is also yesterday’s sun. SDO has eclipse seasons twice a year. The current eclipse season lasts until October 4.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.