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.