The video above shows the Lunar Eclipse in a variety of wavelengths the AIA instrument observes. Each wavelength shows us a different temperature and layer of the Sun, allowing us to study the Sun and its activities. Credit: NASA GSFC SDO

On February 21st 2012 the Moon came in between the SDO satellite and the Sun for 1 hour and 41 minutes. The SDO team observed the Lunar Transit. This event only happens a few times a year but gives the SDO Team an opportunity to better understand the AIA instrument on SDO and give it a fine tune.

No ground observers could spot it, it was visible only from space. It was a fairly shallow transit, but the Moon covered a bright active region. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) took stunning image from geosynchronous orbit approximately 36,000 km above Earth’s surface using a bank of 16 megapixel cameras.

As the Moon flew in between the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Sun, the event was snapped by the solar-seeing satellite, producing multi-filtered views of this mini-eclipse as seen in video above. This kind of event gives SDO engineers a way to fine-tune the observatory’s calibration as well. The sharp edge of the lunar limb helps researchers measure the in-orbit characteristics of the telescope, how light diffracted around the telescope’s optics and filter support grids. Once these are calibrated, it is possible to correct SDO data for instrumental effects and sharpen the images even more than before.

SDO AIA image of the Sun and Moon – combined AIA image and AIA 304 (Credit SDO/LMSAL)

SDO observed the event at multiple extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. AIA 4500, AIA 193 and HMI Dopplergram images of lunar transit (Credit: SDO)

For annular eclipse path and times in your area, see: NASA’s Eclipse Page

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff

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