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Watch a rare double solar eclipse as seen from space

A rare moment.
  • Katherine Ellen Foley
By Katherine Ellen Foley

Health and science reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

On Sept. 1, space enthusiasts in central Africa witnessed an annular eclipse as the moon drifted in front of the sun, shutting out all but its edges, and creating a beautiful ‘ring of fire’. The phenomenon was caused by the moon being at its farthest point away from the Earth, and is usually only seen from Earth about once every two years.

The view from Earth was breathtaking, as most eclipses are, but the crossing of the moon in front of the sun caused a rare double eclipse as seen from the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO), a satellite launched by NASA in February 2010 that gives a live feed of the sun.

The Earth blocks the SDO for just a moment each day as part of its orbit. The final moments of the recent annular eclipse coincided with the time the Earth crossed the sun’s path. You can watch the view from space in the NASA video below.

In the video, Earth appears blurred around the edges while the moon’s edges are clearer. According to NASA, this is because of Earth’s atmosphere: the air molecules absorb some, but not all, of the sun’s light. The moon, on the other hand, has no atmosphere.

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