The United States is already gearing up in preparation for the great American total solar eclipse that is expected to occur on Aug. 21, but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a gift for everyone in advance.
NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO), a satellite positioned 22,000 miles above New Mexico and whose sole task is to observe the sun, witnessed and documented the moon's transit between the sun and itself in a partial solar eclipse.
Partial Solar Eclipse
The SDO took several photos when the earth's moon partially covered the light of the sun as it passed between the sun and satellite on May 25. The lunar transit lasted nearly an hour between 2:24 p.m. and 3:17 p.m. EDT (11:24 a.m. and 12:17 p.m. PST).
The images show the moon covering just about 89 percent of the sun at the peak of the eclipse, and the moon's horizon can be seen clearly due to its lack of atmosphere.
Watch the animated version of the partial solar eclipse prepared by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
According to NASA, you will have to look closely at the image to notice the subtle bumps that make up the moon's rugged surface because the topographical features are not obvious in the images taken by the SDO.
"While the moon's edge appears smooth in these images, it's actually quite uneven. The surface of the moon is rugged, sprinkled with craters, valleys and mountains," NASA reminds.
The Next Eclipse Is Twice The Treat
The SDO will witness another eclipse in three months, but what it will see won't be as great as the view from the United States.
This is because the next eclipse is the total solar eclipse happening on Aug. 21, and the moon will fully cover the sun during its transit. People along the stretch of Oregon to South Carolina can watch as it happens. The United States last witnessed a total solar eclipse almost 100 years ago, so scientists, especially at NASA, have been busy preparing to document and learn more about the remarkable event.
While people across the United States are treated to the total solar eclipse, however, the SDO will only witness another partial eclipse from its position in space but will only get to see it after the eclipse exits the country.
We have no doubt it will be able to capture stunning images anyway.