Stunning Spacecraft Photos Show Moon Eclipsing the Sun

Stunning Spacecraft Photos Show Moon Eclipsing the Sun
On Oct. 7, 2010, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, observed its first lunar transit when the new moon passed directly between the spacecraft (in its geosynchronous orbit) and the sun. With SDO watching the sun in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, the dark moon created a partial eclipse of the sun. (Image credit: NASA)

Aspacecraft gazing at the sun has caught some stunningviews of the moon eclipsing the sun as seen from space.

NASA'sSolar Dynamics Observatory snapped theeye-catching photos of the moon passing in front of the sun on Oct. 7. [Photoof the moon and sun from space]

Thiswas not a natural partial solareclipselike those that can be seen from Earth when the moonpasses directly between the Earth and the sun. Rather, the eclipse wasonlyvisible from the vantage point of the SolarDynamics Observatory,or SDO, which is currently in orbit aboveEarth.  

"Thevery sharp edge of the lunar limb allows us tomeasure the in-orbit characteristics of the telescope ? lightdiffraction onoptics and filter support grids," said SDO science team member KarelSchrijver, of Lockheed-Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab. "Once theseare characterized, we can use that information to correct our data forinstrumental effects and sharpen up the images to even more detail."

Inthe new photos, the rough terrain of the moon can clearlybe seen in silhouette against the bright backdrop of the sun.The sunappears as it would in the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum.

NASAlaunched the sun-watching observatory in February onafive-year mission to continually watch the sun. It is the first missiontolaunch under NASA's Living With a Star program.

The$850 million spacecraft is equipped with threecameras to monitor the sun and take high-definition photosof our nearest star.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.