Encore - Equinox from Space

January 03, 2015

Equinox from Space

Take a look back at some of the EPODs our viewers found particularly eye-catching. Today, and every Saturday, EPOD invites you to rediscover favorites from the past. Saturday posts feature an EPOD that was chosen by viewers like you in our monthly Viewers’ Choice polls. Join us as we look back at these intriguing and captivating images.

Image from the NOAA Geostationary Satellite Server
Summary Author: Jim Foster

The image above shows a view of the Earth's terminator from approximately 22,300 miles (35,800 km) above the Earth's surface. It was acquired  September 21, 2009 (at 0600Z) by the Meteosat-9 geostationary satellite, which orbits the Earth directly over the Equator, above the Prime Meridian (0 degrees longitude). Notice that the terminator, the band demarking the boundary between daylight and darkness, stretches from the North Pole to the South Pole. The only time this happens is when the Earth is at or near one of the two equinoxes; around September 22 and March 21. At these times, every location on the globe experiences nearly 12 hours of daylight and darkness (equinox).

Like all geostationary satellites, Meteosat-9 is designed to revolve in the same direction that the Earth rotates (west to east). At such a high orbital altitude (about 1/10 the distance to the Moon), one complete orbit takes 24 hours, which is of course the same amount of time as the Earth requires to rotate once on its axis.