GOLD Instrument observes the July 2019 Total Solar Eclipse

  • Released Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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The GOLD instrument aboard the SES 14 satellite observes the Earth in ultraviolet light. In this region of the electromagnetic spectrum, it sees emission of atmospheric ions, atoms and molecules activated by incoming solar radiation.

In these visualizations, we see how the total solar eclipse of July 2012 significantly affected this emission as the Moon's shadow moved across Earth. We also show wavelengths corresponding to two different populations of emitting atoms, the nitrogen LBH bands and the oxygen 135.6nm emission which has a strong contribution from ionized oxygen atoms.

Because the oxygen ions are charged, they respond to the electromagnetic force and exhibit some enhancement straddling the magnetic equator - the Appleton anomaly, which is created by a process called the 'fountain effect'. The nitrogen emission, from atoms with no net electric charge, does not respond to Earth's magnetic field so does not exhibit the Appleton anomaly.

Comparative visualizations of Earth in the ultraviolet emission of oxygen recombining from ions and ultraviolet emission of the nitrogen Lyman-Birge-Hopfield (LBH) bands. In the oxygen version, the Appleton anomaly is faintly visible above and below the equator on the nightside of the Earth. This version presents the path of the solar eclipse but variations are available in the popup menu to the right.

Colorbar reference for the nitrogen Lyman-Birge-Hopfield (LBH) bands ultraviolet emission.

Colorbar reference for the nitrogen Lyman-Birge-Hopfield (LBH) bands ultraviolet emission.


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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:45 PM EDT.


This visualization is related to the following missions:


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Datasets used in this visualization

  • CPC (Climate Prediction Center) Cloud Composite

    ID: 600
    Type: Data Compilation Dates used: 2019-06-30T06:22:00UTC - 2019-07-02T22:520:00UTC

    Global cloud cover from multiple satellites

    See all pages that use this dataset
  • [SES 14: GOLD]

    ID: 1049
    Type: Observed Data Sensor: GOLD Dates used: 2019-06-30T06:22:00UTC - 2019-07-02T22:520:00UTC

    Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) is an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph to measure temperatures and densities in the Earth's thermosphere & ionosphere.

    See all pages that use this dataset

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.