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Why is the Sun Shaking in NASA's Rare Partial Solar Eclipse Video?

Nov 05, 2016 04:18 AM EDT
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Watch: Moon blots sun out of sky as total solar eclipse mesmerises US

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured a partial solar eclipse in space, and they have shared their experience in a hypnotizing animation.

Partial solar eclipses happen when the moon comes between the sun and the earth, but they don't align in a perfectly straight line. It is called "partial" solar eclipse because during the fleeting moment when the moon passes by, the moon only partially covers the Sun's disc.

In the animation shared by NASA, the sun appeared to be shaking as the moon passes in front of it. Viewers who have seen the animation were spooked by the sun's movement, but as NASA explained, the shuddering is not executed by the sun nor is it caused by the moon.

"From SDO's point of view, the sun appears to be shaking slightly - but not because the solar observatory was spooked by this near-Halloween sight. Instead, the shaking results from slight adjustments in SDO's guidance system, which normally relies upon viewing the entire sun to center the images between exposures," NASA explained.

According to Space.com, the lunar transit occurred for about an hour, between 3:56 p.m. and 4:56 p.m. EDT (1956 to 2056 GMT), during Sunday's eclipse, which was visible from SDO's vantage point in Earth orbit but not from the ground.

At peak coverage, the moon covered only about 59 percent of the sun.

In the photos captured in extreme ultraviolet light, the sun appeared to be red and the edges of the shadows are well-defined because there was no atmosphere to distort the light.

Meanwhile, Tech Times notes that the function of the SDO is to observe and track the sun's activities as it greatly influences the weather patterns on space. Because it is capable of tracking the sun's activities, SDO also delivers warnings to astronauts and satellites in case the sun's activity could pose danger to them.

Above all, it aims to gather information about the sun's structure and how it deploys energy into space. It gathers a single CD worth of data every 36 seconds.

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