The Moon Just Photobombed NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)
On May 25, 2017, the moon photobombed one of our sun-watching satellites by passing directly between the satellite and the sun.
The lunar transit lasted almost an hour, between 2:24 and 3:17 p.m. EDT, with the moon covering about 89 percent of the sun at the peak of its journey across the sun’s face. The moon’s crisp horizon can be seen from this view because the moon has no atmosphere to distort the sunlight.
SDO sees lunar transits about twice a year, and this one lasted about an hour with the moon covering about 89 percent of the sun at the peak of its journey across the sun’s face.
When they’re seen from Earth, we call lunar transits by another name: eclipses.
Solar eclipses are just a special kind of transit where the moon blocks all or part of our view of the sun. Since SDO’s view of the sun was only partially blocked, it saw a partial eclipse. Later this year, on Aug. 21, a total eclipse will be observable from the ground: The moon will completely block the sun’s face in some parts of the US, creating a total solar eclipse on a 70-mile-wide stretch of land, called the path of totality, that runs from Oregon to South Carolina.
Throughout the rest of North America — and even in parts of South America, Africa, Europe and Asia — the moon will partially obscure the sun, creating a partial eclipse. SDO will also witness this partial eclipse.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO/Joy Ng