The excitement around the recent total solar eclipse—which passed through 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21—built and built in the weeks before the event. Now that it has passed, American eclipse enthusiasts will have to wait until April 8, 2024 for the next such celestial event to be visible from the U.S.
But in the meantime, they can revel in stunning photographs and in a striking new video from NASA featuring views of the eclipse from its various spacecraft as well as those of the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the United Kingdom Space Agency and more. Even those who observed the eclipse from the path of totality are in for a whole new experience when they see what it looked like from space.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory, for example, which watches the sun from nearly 3,000 miles above the earth, saw the moon pass over the sun. It only covered about 14 percent of the sun’s surface, compared with 60 to 100 percent coverage visible from the ground in the U.S., but it reveals a staggering amount of detail on the surface of the sun.
The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, an instrument aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Deep Space Climate Observatory, captured a series of a dozen images. When viewed in sequence, these shots depict the progression of the moon’s shadow moving across the country.
The video also includes views captured by the Hinode solar observation satellite’s X-ray telescope as it flew roughly 422 miles above the Pacific Ocean; the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from its orbit around the moon; the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph mission; the GOES-16 satellite and other spacecraft.
Six lucky observers aboard the International Space Station—NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson, Jack Fischer and Randy Bresnik; Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy; and ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli—saw the eclipse three times from their perch 250 miles above the Earth. In addition to the views included in NASA’s video, several of the astronauts shared images on social media.
"I hope y’all had a great view for the #SolarEclipse2017 yesterday! It was cool to see that ginormous shadow trucking across the USA!" Fischer wrote on Twitter.
"Here is close-up to the business end of an eclipse - we were amazed at the colors visible on the opposite side," his colleague, Bresnik, added. "From our huge @Space_Station, the view was tremendous and more impressive than was expected."