During the early hours of this morning, from 12:30am to 3am, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a stunning solar eclipse from space. The Observatory sees a number of eclipses each year, but this was the longest one that's been recorded so far.
The eclipse was visible from the Observatory's vantage point, orbiting 36,000km above Earth. Since it could only be seen from space, the event is technically called a lunar transit. At its peak, the Moon covered up to 90% of the Sun.
Just as the Moon moves away, you can see a solar flare erupting from the left hand side of the Sun. This is just the kind of activity that the Observatory is helping scientists to better understand.
Perfect timing as the Sun releases a solar flare.
Launched into space on 11 February 2010, the Observatory is on a 5 year mission to study the Sun as part of NASA's Living with a Star program. Our Sun is very active releasing flares and eruptions that can send energetic particles hurtling towards Earth. This can play havoc with our technological systems, bringing down power grids and causing blackouts. The ultimate aim is to better understand the cause of the Sun's activity so that one day we may be able to predict when such flares will occur to give us some prior warning.
The Observatory takes an image of the Sun every 0.75 seconds, and you can see all the beautiful images at the Observatory's Gallery. We have been loving the Gallery here at the Planetarium, and some of the footage will be featured in a new planetarium show to be released later this year.