Here’s something you don’t see everyday. In fact, this is the first time this has ever been seen. On Feb. 10 Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft in orbit around the moon successfully took an image of a penumbral lunar eclipse. That’s the Earth passing in front of the sun, as seen from the Moon. From the Moon! The image was taken just at the moment when the Earth covered up most of the sun, creating a diamond ring effect. If we’re lucky on Earth, we can see this effect in a solar eclipse, when the Moon blocks the Sun as seen from Earth. Here, Earth’s atmosphere is lit up by the sun, creating the ring and just enough sunlight is sneaking by on one side of the Earth, creating the diamond. Sensational! Plus, there’s a movie of the eclipse, too!
A penumbral lunar eclipse is a phenomenon in which the Sun, Earth and Moon line up in tandem, and the moon is in the Earth’s penumbra, or, when you look from the Moon, the Sun is partially covered by the Earth (partial eclipse.) When the phenomenon occurs, the volume of light from the Sun to the Moon decreases, making the Moon’s surface look darker when you see it from the Earth.