Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2002 December 9
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Moon Shadow Moves Over Africa
Credit and Copyright: EUMETSAT

Explanation: When the Moon's shadow reached out and touched the Earth last week, the result was a solar eclipse. Such an eclipse is total only for observers located along a narrow path corresponding to the ground track of the shadow's dark central portion or umbra. For this eclipse, racing along at nearly 2000 kilometers per hour, the Moon's umbra obligingly crossed over land along regions of Africa and Australia. Totality lasted for about two minutes or less at a given location. Many nearby regions fell within the lighter but much wider outer shadow region, the penumbra, and witnessed a partial solar eclipse. The above movie follows the Moon's shadow as it crossed Africa during a similar eclipse in June 2001. Each frame is separated in time by about 20 minutes. The movie was created from frames taken by the orbiting European satellite MeteoSat-6.

Tomorrow's picture: Swan Omega

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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