NASA’s SDO satellite captures lunar transit today

21 Feb 2012

Screengrab of SDO video depicting the lunar transit, posted on YouTube today

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite has just captured the moon coming in between the SDO satellite and the sun. Such a lunar transit happens only a couple of times a year. Scientists observed the lunar transit for one hour and 41 minutes today.

The SDO crew said that while this event only happens a few times a year it gives them an opportunity to better understand the AIA instrument on the SDO satellite and to fine-tune it.

The AIA instrument observed today’s lunar transit in a variety of wavelengths. The scientists said that each wavelength shows a different temperature and layer of the sun.

The SDO has been monitoring the sun’s activities for the past two years now. It was back on 11 February 2010 that SDO blasted into the sky via an Atlas V booster before it became a free-flying satellite.

Over the past two years, SDO has taken about 70 million images of the sun. It has captured flares and magnetic fields as they rise to the solar surface as well as two comets.

The scientists said they will be watching as Solar Cycle 24 approaches its solar maximum, at least in the northern hemisphere this year.
As well as this, Venus is destined to go across the face of the Sun on 5–6 June next.


Credit: YouTube

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic