Given the Sun’s importance in our solar system, NASA spends a considerable amount of time studying it with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
Image Credit: NASA
The SDO, which launched eight years ago, provides NASA with a continuous ultraviolet-based feed of the Sun. This data helps scientists better understand the Sun's unique characteristics, such as its magnetic field, solar flare activity, and how these factors impact the Earth.
Citing an official NASA statement, the SDO kicked off one of its bi-annual eclipse seasons this week. Notably, it captured one of these spectacular events as it happened from 2:10 A.M. to 2:41 A.M. Eastern time on Sunday.
The ultraviolet footage in the animated GIF image above depicts the Earth obstructing the SDO’s view of the Sun during a half-hour-long transit event. The Sun becomes visible again soon after the Earth moves out of the way.
These eclipse seasons take place during the equinoxes and can last for up to three weeks at a time. This one, dubbed the Spring eclipse season, began on February 10th and should conclude by March 5th. We can expect the next eclipse season sometime in September.
While the most recent eclipse event only endured for about 31 minutes, NASA says they can last for up to 72 minutes toward the middle of the season. The entire duration depends on both the alignment and perspective when the event takes place.
For NASA, these eclipse seasons are bittersweet. They deliver stunning footage every year during the SDO’s launch anniversary, but they also obstruct scientific research concerning the Sun for several minutes at a time.
Oh well… NASA can’t have its cake and eat it too, but we sure can sit back and enjoy the stunning footage that comes out of it.