This week, an eclipse occurred, the moon passed right in front of the sun which created what we know as solar eclipse which could only be seen if you were at a specific place on the planet at a certain moment. The shadow of the moon is not the biggest shadow, therefore, if you were not at the right moment and place you can consider yourself lucky to have seen a little portion of the shadow or, none at all.
The DSCVR satellite can be found 1.5 million kilometers away from our planet, between the Earth and the Sun. This intergalactic friend offers us a four-megapixel natural-color view of our world. Best show in space ever.
The satellite took a total of thirteen pictures of the eclipse. There’s a few gifs on the internet where these 13 images were put together in order for us ‘unlucky ones’ to take a glimpse of this thrilling event. In the animation, a black spot can be seen which is the Moon’s shadow moving from left to right. The eclipse took place over the Pacific, and you can see China, Australia, and more under the clouds.
DSCVR does not miss a single move
The Earth is rotating left to right (west to east). The Moon is moving in the same direction, off-frame, as it orbits the Earth. It moves around us at about one km/sec, so its ground track (the speed it moves across the ground) is actually faster than the Earth’s rotation (which at a maximum is about 0.5 km/sec.
All of these movements left to right or vice versa are caught by a satellite that seems to be paralyzed in space but we must know that it isn’t.
The satellite is located in something called ‘halo orbit’ which is located between the Earth and the Moon, where the gravitational balance of the Earth and Sun is equal when you also account for the centripetal acceleration (or centrifugal force if you prefer) of the satellite’s orbit. The point is, all the forces balance and the satellite stays near that spot in space.
This can get a little head-scratchy because of all the angles. For example, it’s possible that from DSCOVR’s viewpoint it does see the Moon pass in front of (what we call transiting) Earth, but there’s no eclipse. Like the one that occurred in August of 2015.
Next year, on Aug. 21, there will be a total solar eclipse that passes right across the US, this could be the first and the last for many people so, make sure not to miss it since we do not know when there’s going to be another.
Many of these thrilling events can be found recorded in videos throughout the internet, better check them out so you can realize how amazing this event is for the whole earth.