Satellite captures double solar eclipse in action

double solar eclipse

The SDO satellite watched both Earth (top) and the moon (left) pass in front of the sun. The Earth’s atmosphere makes the planet’s silhouette look fuzzy.

Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA

A solar eclipse is pretty cool; a double solar eclipse is even better. On September 13, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite caught an exceptionally rare sight: the Earth and the moon simultaneously passing across the face of the sun. (Watch an animation showing the momentary alignment of SDO, Earth, the moon and the sun.) Back on Earth, meanwhile, the hardy residents of Antarctica were treated to a partial solar eclipse.

Launched in 2010, SDO studies the sun’s churning atmosphere. Its tilted geosynchronous orbit gives the spacecraft a nearly uninterrupted view, but on rare occasions like this, the Earth or moon can get in the way.

headshot of Associate News Editor Christopher Crockett

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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