Chinese microsatellite snaps stunning photo of a black shadow over Earth

A Chinese lunar satellite has captured an otherworldly look at the shadow over our planet during this week’s total solar eclipse. Researchers operating the microsatellite DSLWP-B, which launched with China’s Queqiao satellite last spring, shared the stunning image on Twitter after it was snapped from lunar orbit on July 2.

The satellite took a total of six pictures while the eclipse was underway, which were later downloaded to radio telescopes in Beijing and Dwingeloo, in the Netherlands. A team with the Dwingeloo Telescope shared the incredible photo on Twitter on Wednesday after they were downloaded and processed.

The satellite is fitted with an amateur radio transceiver which allows it to communicate with radio amateurs on Earth. It’s one of the countless stunning views that have come out of the July 2 eclipse, which swept over South America and parts of the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shared a timelapse of the solar eclipse on Tuesday night as seen by its GOES East and West satellites, revealing the instruments had also spotted Hurricane Barbara churning away nearby.

The Kansas City branch of the National Weather Service tweeted, Not too often you catch a Category 4 hurricane and a solar eclipse occurring in the same satellite loop.

Multiple satellite views showed darkness creeping across the southern continent as the eclipse moved toward totality on Tuesday. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and completely blocks out the sun’s light. The eclipse made its first landfall in Chile at 3:22 p.m. (1922 GMT) in La Serena and remained in the partial phase for just over an hour. The total eclipse began there at 4:38 p.m. and lasted only about 2½ minutes.

At the same time, Hurricane Barbara, the first major hurricane of the year was brewing far out in the Pacific Ocean. The category 4 hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 kph) early Wednesday, according to the US National Hurricane Center. Viewers in South America were treated to undisturbed views of the eclipse and were the only people able to see it on land. Much of the event occurred over open water.

Northern Chile is known for clear skies and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area, turning the South American country into a global astronomy hub. But, total eclipses are relatively rare for a particular spot. In 2017, millions of people in the United States witnessed the phenomena, with a full solar eclipse visible in parts of 14 states and a partial eclipse seen in nearly the entire country. It was the first such widespread eclipse in the U.S. since 1918.

The next total solar eclipse will occur in December 2020 and will be again visible in Chile and Argentina. Another total eclipse won’t be visible in the United States until April 2024.

When will the next solar eclipse take plsce?

The next US solar eclipse will take place on April 8th, 2024, passing from Texas to Maine, with the Canadian city of Montreal being able to see the totality as well. The next total solar eclipse after that will place on August 12, 2026, and will be seen from the Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, Spain, and Northeastern Portugal. On September 2nd, 2035,  a large number of people in China, northern Japan, and Korea will witness a total solar eclipse.

Between 2023 and 2038, the greatest number of total solar eclipses will take place in Australia: There will be five solar eclipses visible from the continent between April 20th, 2023, and December 26th, 2038.

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