Spacecraft Pictures a Magnificent Solar Eclipse
30 May 2012

The 20 May 2012 solar eclipse
The image was acquired by the Japanese spacecraft Hinode, a solar observatory in Earth orbit.
Courtesy of JAXA

On 20 May 2012, an annular solar eclipse was visible in eastern Asia, the northern Pacific Ocean and the western United States. The Japanese space agency, JAXA, recently published wonderful images of this solar eclipse, which darkened the daytime sky, in parts of Japan. The images were acquired from Earth orbit, by JAXA’s Hinode spacecraft.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly between Earth and the Sun. The solar eclipse will be annular if the Moon is at, or near the most distant point of its elliptical orbit, when the Moon’s apparent size is slightly smaller than that of the Sun. Therefore, during maximum eclipse, a brilliant ring of the Sun remains visible. The next annular solar eclipse will be on 10 May 2013.

Hinode is a sophisticated solar mission. It has been placed into a special low Earth orbit, known as a Sun-synchronous orbit allowing a nearly continuous observation of the Sun. Hinode launched in September 2006.



Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist 

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