Moon bites multicolor Sun… from space!

By Phil Plait | February 21, 2012 10:30 am

Earlier today, the Solar Dynamics Observatory had a front seat to a pretty nifty event: a partial eclipse of the Sun. For about 100 minutes, from its orbital viewpoint SDO saw the Moon pass in front of the Sun, partially blocking it. SDO semi-fictional mascot Camilla Corona created a really cool video of the event, using footage from different wavelengths edited together:

The false color images show the event at a variety of different "colors" in the ultraviolet, where different temperatures and behaviors of the Sun are apparent. One shows the magnetic activity creating loops and towers of plasma arching from the Sun’s surface, another the roiling cells of hot plasma rising from beneath the surface which then cool and sink, and another the extremely hot plasma of the Sun’s corona.

This event happens every few months as the geometry of the Moon, Sun, and SDO’s orbit align in just the right way. See Related Posts below for videos and pictures from previous SDO eclipses.

So you might be wondering what this would look like to the eye were you onboard SDO (and not dying from the vacuum of space). Why, it would look like this:

How awesome is that? Click to enumbrenate.

This was taken in visible light using a filter that lets through bluish-green light (and displayed grayscale). You can see a nice little group of sunspots there… which is hardly "little": that grouping is comfortably larger than Jupiter, more than ten times the size of the Earth!

You can follow Camilla Corona SDO on G+ and on Twitter to stay on top of what our local star is doing.

Image credit: NASA/SDO

Related posts:

An eclipse from space with a two-way Moon
SDO lunar transit: now with video!
Solar eclipse, from space!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

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