Two More Eclipse Pictures, Because Holy Wow

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Nov. 5 2013 11:35 AM

Two More Eclipse Pictures, Because Holy Wow

I knew that if I posted a couple of cool pictures and/or videos of last Sunday’s total solar eclipse, more would come in that would be even cooler.

So here you go, I have two more to delight your eyeballs.

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The first one is from Meteosat 10, a weather satellite run by EUMETSAT, an organization that operates Europe’s meteorological satellites. Meteosat 10 orbits the Earth over Africa, and had a grand view of the eclipse as the Moon’s shadow swept across the planet from west to east. Images taken every 15 minutes from 10:45 to 14:30 UTC on Nov. 3 were combined to create this staggeringly cool animation:

Photo by EUMETSAT / Meteosat 10 / CIMSS Satellite Blog

Seriously, right? You can easily see the umbra, the darkest part of the shadow, moving toward and over Africa, and the penumbra, or lighter part of the shadow, centered on the umbra (to learn about why there are two parts to the shadow, there’s a pretty good explanation on wikipedia). The high-res version of this animation is simply stunning.

The second image is a still picture, but shows the same scene from below. Turkish astrophotographer Tunç Tezel (who is no stranger to this blog) was about 20 kilometers northeast of Pakwach, Uganda and got this fantastic shot:

solar eclipse
Nov. 2013 solar eclipse seen from Uganda. Note the sky around the horizon is still bright.

Photo byTunç Tezel, used by permission

He said that totality lasted a mere 16 seconds, the shortest he’s ever seen.

Now, you might look at that and think, “But I can barely see the eclipsed Sun at all!” and you’d be right. But that’s not the point of this picture. Look at the sky. You can see the sky itself is dark around the eclipsed Sun, but farther away it’s lit very much like normal. In this shot you are seeing how big the umbra of the Moon’s shadow is, just like you did in the satellite picture above!

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

If this were an animated picture, you’d see that dark part of the sky moving across the frame just like in that satellite shot, but this time you’re looking up at it, not down. The two pictures are complements of each other!

So cool. Someday, I swear, I will see a total solar eclipse. That, and a good aurora. It seems wrong that I’ve been writing about them so long and never seen either for myself.

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