The August solar eclipse treated us to some amazing pictures

22 Aug 2017

The 2017 solar eclipse as seen from North Carolina. Image: jo Crebbin/Shutterstock

In a matter of minutes, the August solar eclipse gave North America a once-in-a-lifetime show, but its memory will live on in some incredible images.

For those in the rest of the world – including Ireland – the August solar eclipse was either not visible or the totality was so small that it was barely significant.

This was not the case in much of North America, where many – some for as long as three hours – observed the eclipse from the very beginning right through to its climactic darkening of the sky.

While obviously an event for everyone in the region to enjoy, it was also a hugely important occasion for the likes of NASA and other scientists who wanted to use the occasion to record data for scientific endeavours.

For instance, during the spectacle, NASA sent two chaser planes loaded with equipment into the sky to follow the solar eclipse with the aim of recording the clearest images of the sun’s outer atmosphere, otherwise known as the corona.

The mission also set out to capture the first ever thermal images of Mercury in an effort to find out how temperature varies across the planet’s surface.

Seven-minute total eclipse

The lucky pilots that flew this mission got a treat unlike anyone else on Earth as their solar eclipse experience lasted for several extra minutes.

Meanwhile, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) were also training their cameras on the sky – from the outside in – to capture the shadow of the moon as it passed in front of the sun.

Bear in mind that the last time something like this happened in North America was in 1979, but now, in 2017, we have a wealth of high-resolution images taken not only by scientists, but photographers on the ground, too.

Here are just some of the incredible images they snapped over the course of a few hours.

Total eclipse

The total solar eclipse seen from Casper, Wyoming, by a team of ESA astronomers. Image: ESA/MP Ayucar (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

Partial eclipse

The last glimmer of the sun peeks out as the moon makes its final move during the total solar eclipse. Image: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Eclipse from ISS

The ISS crossed the path of the eclipse three times as it orbited above North America at an altitude of 400km. Image: NASA

Eclipse and the ISS

With six crew aboard, the ISS moves in front of a partial solar eclipse as it transits the sun at roughly 8km per second. Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Eclipse composite

A composite image showing the full spectrum of the solar eclipse. Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Red sun

Perhaps one of the most striking images taken of the eclipse by NASA, shot using its infrared cameras. Image: NASA/SDO

Pinhole projectors

For those without protective eyewear, the pinhole projector method offered its own delights. Image: Logan Johnson

Speaking of which …

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic