Eclipses!

There was an annular solar eclipse visible across a thin strip of Africa and Madagascar last Thursday (and a partial eclipse visible across the rest of Africa).  Astronomy Picture of the Day posted this spectacular time-lapse image of the event, by Luc Perrot, on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean:

But you know how solar eclipses work, right?  That’s the new Moon, standing directly between Earth and Sun, and silhouetted against the Sun’s disc.  It’s cool to think about, but for a more visceral look at the geometry, we need to move into space.  Happily, right now is eclipse season for Solar Dynamics Observatory.  SDO is in a sun-synchronous orbit, which means that, more or less, it orbits in such a way that the Earth doesn’t block the Sun.  But due to precession and things like that, every now and again comes a time when the Earth starts photobombing the pictures.  Even cooler is if the Moon is standing between Earth and Sun, so just for a moment you can see the Earth eclipsing the Moon eclipsing the Sun.  😉  And last Thursday, that’s exactly what happened:

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