Total Solar Eclipse from the Perspective of Space

August 02, 2011


Image provided by: Maximilian Reuter 
Summary Authors: Maximilian Reuter; Susanne Pfeifer; Jim Foster 

August 2011 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's ChoiceThe image above shows the total solar eclipse of March 29, 2006, as observed from the MSG satellite, in geostationary orbit 22,369 mi (36,000 km) above the equator. Note that the eclipsed area, where the shadow of the full Moon reached the Earth's surface, lies over the cloudless, east-central Sahara Desert. The region that experienced a total solar eclipse at the time this image was acquired (10:00 UTC) is located at the center of the deeply shadowed region (umbra). This region has a diameter of about 112 mi (180 km). The dark region (penumbra) just outside the deepest shadow experienced a partial solar eclipse.

Image Details: MSG satellites are operated by EUMETSAT and developed in close cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). The primary instrument on MSG is the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI), which measures light in 11 spectral channels from the visible to the thermal infrared spectral region. The resolution of most channels is about 1.8 mi (3 km) at the nadir point, directly below the satellite. The above image is a composite of the detection of three specific spectral channels of SEVIRI combined with NASA’s Blue Marble Next Generation data. This combination enables the generation of true-color images from satellite instruments optimized for meteorological observations.