NASA re­veals stun­ning shots when Earth blocks face of sun

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The im­age turns pur­ple due to ex­treme ul­tra­vi­o­let light

NASA’s sun-ob­serv­ing space­craft has capt­tured colour­ful im­ages of the mo­ment the earth blocked its view of the sun.

In a short an­i­ma­tion posted on Tues­day, the So­lar Dy­nam­ics Ob­ser­va­tory’s (SDO) view of a pur­ple sun is in­ter­rupted as Earth com­pletely cov­ers its sur­face.

The sun isn’t ac­tu­ally pur­ple, but it looks that colour be­cause the im­ages were taken in a wave­length of ex­treme ul­tra­vi­o­let light.

This kind of ul­tra­vi­o­let light is a type that’s usu­ally in­vis­i­ble to the hu­man eye, so NASA noted that it’s been colourised in pur­ple. The event marks the be­gin­ning of the SDO’s eclipse sea­son, which is a three­week pe­riod that comes twice a year near the equinoxes.

When this hap­pens, the earth blocks the SDO’s view of the sun for a short mo­ment each day, NASA said. “The eclipses are fairly short near the be­gin­ning and end of the sea­son but ramp up to 72 min­utes in the mid­dle,” the agency ex­plained.

“The SDO’s or­bit is de­signed to max­imise the amount of data the space­craft can send back to earth, but twice a year Earth gets in the way of the space­craft’s view,"

they added.

The SDO keeps a con­stant eye on the sun, study­ing its at­mos­phere and ef­fects on the near-Earth en­vi­ron­ment.

The satel­lite has been mon­i­tor­ing the sun since 2010 and has cap­tured some fas­ci­nat­ing footage since then. In 2015, the SDO cap­tured its 100 mil­lionth im­age of the sun, ac­cord­ing to CNET. NASA noted that the spring eclipse sea­son be­gan on Fe­bru­ary 10 with a par­tial eclipse and ends on March 5.

This type of an im­age is usu­ally in­vis­i­ble to the hu­man eye.

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