Categories: Eclipses

Spacecraft Witnesses Solar Eclipse x 3

On the ground, the total solar eclipse of November 13/14, 2012 was only visible to only to observers in northern Australia. But ESA’s Sun-watching satellite Proba-2 enjoyed three partial eclipses from its vantage point in space.

During a total solar eclipse, the Moon moves in front of the Sun as seen from Earth, their alignment and separation such that the much closer Moon appears large enough to block out the light from the much more distant Sun.

Since Proba-2 orbits Earth about 14.5 times per day, it can dip in and out of the Moon’s shadow around the time of a solar eclipse. The constant change in viewing angle of Proba-2 meant that the satellite passed through the shadow three times during the eclipse yesterday, as shown in the video above.

ESA says the apparent noise in the movie results from high energy particles hitting Proba-2’s electronics as the spacecraft passes through the South Atlantic Anomaly. The dimming in the movie is an effect as part of the satellite’s orbit passes through the shadow of the Earth.

Proba-2 image of the solar disc taken during the total eclipse of July 2010, combined with ground-based images taken at the same time to reveal the exquisite details of the solar corona. Credit: ESA

Read more about Proba-2’s day of eclipses from ESA.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

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