Moon Shadow Seen From Space
The Jan. 15, 2010 annular solar eclipse cast this partial shadow on Earth, seen from NASA's Aqua satellite. Even in the darkest part of the shadow, clouds are so reflective that the small amount of sunlight escaping around the edge of the moon's disk is enough to illuminate them for the satellite's view. Farther north in India, closer to the shadow's edge, the surface appears tea-colored. A white line was added to delineate the coastline.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Aqua satellite/Jeff Schmaltz

On Friday, Jan. 15, a solar eclipse graced parts of Asia and Africa. The moon got between Earth and the sun and blocked out most of the sun.

From space, looking down, the moon cast a big shadow on our planet. At 1:15 p.m. Calcutta time (7:45 UTC) on Jan. 15, NASA's Aqua satellite made an image of the moon shadow falling on India and the Bay of Bengal. The picture was released Saturday.

Unlike a total solar eclipse, when the moon perfectly and completely blocks out the sun, the moon was too far from Earth Friday and so it was too small to create a complete shadow. That left a fiery ring of sunlight around the edges of the moon. So the shadow on Earth was dark, but not complete.

The shadow spanned a north-south distance of about 185 miles (300 kilometers) on the surface, according to NASA, with the darkest part near the mid-point of the span. Even in the darkest part of the shadow, clouds are so reflective that the small amount of sunlight escaping around the edge of the moon's disk is enough to illuminate them for the satellite's view.

Toward the edges of the shadow, Earth is the color of dark tea.

The shadow followed a roughly west-to-east arc from central Africa to eastern China. At the height of the eclipse, which occurred over the Indian Ocean, the complete disk of the moon was visible against the sun for 11 minutes and 8 seconds, making this the longest annular eclipse to occur over the next 1,000 years.