The Fifth Column

This is simply spectacular!

MSNBC Photo Blog

The heavens have to align just right for a solar eclipse — and for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, today was the day the heavens aligned. The only place where you could see today’s partial eclipse was in outer space. But don’t worry: Some of us earthlings will get a couple of chances later this year.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory watches the sun in multiple wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light from a vantage point in geosynchronous orbit, about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.

Sometimes other celestial bodies muscle in on SDO’s view of the sun. Earth itself gets in the way twice a year, around the time of the spring and autumn equinoxes. Today, it was the moon’s turn to take a bite out of the sun’s bright disk.

Although this brief obstruction cut into the $850 million mission’s observing…

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