See how Earth interrupts NASA's constant watch of the sun.
See how Earth interrupts NASA's constant watch of the sun.
Twice a year, for three weeks near the vernal and autumnal equinox, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft moves into its eclipse season—a brief spell when Earth blocks its view of the sun for a period of time each day. Any spacecraft observing the sun from an orbit around Earth has to contend with such eclipses. But SDO's orbit is designed to minimize their occurrence as they also cause a temporary blurring of images in one of its instruments. The most recent eclipse season took place September 6-29, 2012. As Earth entered and exited SDO's field of vision, its advanced imaging instruments captured partial views of the sun at multiple wavelengths. Solar scientists do not get much use from these images, though atmospheric researchers may be able to gain some insights by observing the sun's light as it moves through Earth's atmosphere. Watch the video to see images of Earth passing between the sun and SDO.

Another multimedia item related to this story:
Getting NASA's SDO into Focus (id 11111)
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Short URL to This Page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11124
Animation Number:
11124
Released:
2012-11-08
Completed:
2012-11-07
Video Editor:
Producer:
Scientist:
William D. Pesnell (NASA/GSFC)
Writer:
Karen Fox (ASI)
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Images courtesy of NASA/SDO


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SDO's view of the sun is obstructed by Earth in these ultraviolet images taken during past eclipse seasons.
SDO's view of the sun is obstructed by Earth in these ultraviolet images taken during past eclipse seasons.
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Earth's silhouette lacks perfectly sharp edges because a portion of the light passing through its atmosphere can be seen by SDO.
Earth's silhouette lacks perfectly sharp edges because a portion of the light passing through its atmosphere can be seen by SDO.
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The window on SDO's HMI instrument (above) changes shape during an eclipse due to a lack of solar heat, causing a temporary blurring of its images.
The window on SDO's HMI instrument (above) changes shape during an eclipse due to a lack of solar heat, causing a temporary blurring of its images.
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High-resolution images of the sun (right) taken by the HMI instrument on SDO can appear blurry (left) for up to 45 min. after an eclipse.
High-resolution images of the sun (right) taken by the HMI instrument on SDO can appear blurry (left) for up to 45 min. after an eclipse.
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SDO's next eclipse season begins Mar. 3, 2013.
SDO's next eclipse season begins Mar. 3, 2013.
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