On October 30, 2016, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured a partial solar eclipse in space.
The lunar transit – the moon passing in front of the sun – lasted one hour, between 3:56 p.m. and 4:56 p.m. EDT. At the peak of its journey, he moon covered about 59 percent of the sun.
The moon’s shadow obstructs SDO’s otherwise constant view of the sun. The reason the shadow’s edge is so sharp and distinct is because the moon has no atmosphere, which would distort sunlight.
According to a NASA statement:
From SDO’s point of view, the sun appears to be shaking slightly – but not because the solar observatory was spooked by this near-Halloween sight. Instead, the shaking results from slight adjustments in SDO’s guidance system, which normally relies upon viewing the entire sun to center the images between exposures. SDO captured these images in extreme ultraviolet light, a type of light invisible to human eyes. The imagery here is colorized in red.
Bottom line: On October 30, 2016 NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught the moon passing in front of the sun.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.