TV meteorologists aren’t the only ones getting photobombed lately — earlier today the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s normally-clear view of the sun was suddenly blocked by a wandering moon, which really seemed to have nowhere important to be.
The video above shows the event in its entirety taken through some of SDO’s various imaging assemblies that are sensitive to different wavelengths of light. The moon first appeared at 8:31 a.m. ET and passed in front of the sun over the course of the next couple of hours. Toward the end of the video an M-class flare is seen erupting from AR1967, a large sunspot region that is currently moving into view.
In reality these transits are well-known and anticipated by SDO scientists. Due to the geosynchronous — and slightly angled — orbit of the spacecraft, eclipses of the sun by both the moon and the Earth occur regularly at certain times of the year.
This particular eclipse was a rather dramatic one, with the moon appearing to meander along in a slow arc and, at two and a half hours from start to finish, was the longest ever recorded.
Because of the moon’s lack of any significant atmosphere its edge appears sharp and well-defined. On occasions when Earth transits the sun, our planet’s atmosphere makes for a much fuzzier — and larger — silhouette.
Video credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center