Skip to main content

Stunning image shows annular solar eclipse from a million miles away

The annular solar eclipse in October 2023 viewed by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera on board the Deep Space Climate Observatory.

Folks across parts of the U.S. were treated to the spectacular sight of an annular solar eclipse last Saturday, where the Earth, moon, and sun align in a way that creates a lunar shadow and a so-called “ring of fire.”

Offering another perspective, NASA on Tuesday shared a remarkable image (top) of the same celestial event as seen from a million miles away.

It was captured by the EPIC (Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera) imager on board DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory), a satellite jointly operated by NASA, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the U.S. Air Force that was launched by SpaceX in 2015.

The observatory is located at Lagrange Point 1, a gravitationally stable area between Earth and the sun around a million miles from our planet.

While DSCOVR’s primary role is to monitor solar winds for space weather forecasts, it also beams back Earth images that include the one we see here.

The incredible picture clearly shows a darkened area over the U.S., caused by the moon’s shadow as our nearest neighbor slid between Earth and the sun last Saturday.

When an annular solar eclipse is viewed from Earth, the moon fails to completely block the view of the sun, allowing people with safety glasses or special viewers to see the edge of our nearest star appear around the outside of the moon, a scene commonly described as the ring of fire. It’s a fleeting spectacle, and the peak was only viewable along a fairly narrow band that swept across nine U.S. states, from Oregon in the northwest all the way down to Texas. It was also viewable from parts of Central and South America.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
How to watch this week’s solar eclipse in person or online
Partial eclipse of the Sun, 20 July 1982. Captured from Harefield in the UK.

This Tuesday, October 25, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in some parts of the world as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. Around a quarter of the sun's face will be obscured behind the shadow of the moon in what will be the final eclipse of 2022.

Partial eclipse of the Sun, 20 July 1982. Captured from Harefield in the UK. Robin Scagell/Galaxy

Read more
NASA’s Juno spacecraft shares first image from Jupiter moon flyby
Jupiter's Europa moon captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft.

After beaming back images from its flyby of Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, as well as stunning images of Jupiter itself, NASA’s Juno spacecraft this week did the same for another of the planet’s moons: Europa.

And the early results do no disappoint.

Read more
See the horror of the sun up close from world’s most powerful solar telescope
The first images of the chromosphere – the area of the Sun’s atmosphere above the surface – taken with the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on June 3rd, 2022. The image shows a region 82,500 kilometers across at a resolution of 18 km. This image is taken at 486.13 nanometers using the hydrogen-beta line from the Balmer series.

The astronomy community has a new tool for studying the sun, with the inauguration this week of the world's largest solar telescope. The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, located in Maui, Hawai'i, has a 13-foot (4-meter) primary mirror enabling it to see the sun in phenomenal detail.

To celebrate the telescope's inauguration on August 31, 2022, this week the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a new image of the sun's chromosphere. This is the part of the sun's atmosphere that is right above its surface, and the image shows a region 50,000 miles across where temperatures can be as high as 13,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more