Image & Video Credit & Copyright: Thierry Legault & Terry Virts on ISS.
What a beautiful week it was with the aurora display on St Patrick’s Day and with yesterday’s magnificent total solar eclipse over the arctic which resulted in fascinating views across Europe in varying degrees of coverage. I truly envy those who were able to witness the aurora as well as the eclipse. As long as you had clear skies, things really lined up for you (pun intended). Unfortunately, the last eclipse in Europe until 2026 was shrouded by cloud cover for many but the various live streaming video and social media feeds were still amazing to see. As I stated on Twitter, it was an amazing week of the universe interacting with us and to see the heartbeat of social media race with excitement was just inspiring. The space and astronomy community is a world class group to say the least.
This eclipse was cataloged as a member of Saros Cycle 120 (61 of 71) but aside from that there are a few fun aspects to this eclipse. For starters, totality (total eclipse) was only visible in two locations on earth (if you weren’t flying or on a ship). Those locations were the Faroe Islands and Svalbard and the path of totality ended almost precisely at the North Pole. This eclipse landed on the equinox as advertised but it was also a super moon which is when a new or full moon occurs within 90% of perigee (Moon’s closest approach to earth in its current orbit) as well as a seasonal black moon. A seasonal black moon is a new moon that occurs 4 times in a season while a calendar black moon is 2 new moons in a single month. Black and super moons are just terms to highlight truly simple events. There’s no real meaning to them aside from a super moon causing ever so slightly greater tides. However, as I like to say; if giving these small events names helps people look up who otherwise wouldn’t I’m all for it. Who knows, what you see just may spark your interest to continue looking up.
Finally, just as a treat, there was an International Space Station flyby while the eclipse was in full swing. These two images highlight how that moment was viewed, first from the ground and from the lens of world renowned ISS transit photographer Thierry Legault from his position in Spain. The image is actually a single capture from the video of the event below it. The second image as you can guess is from the other view on orbit from the ISS and NASA astronaut Terry Virts. A little T&T action I guess you could say (I’m not a comedian so back off).
If you’re interested in attempting catching an ISS transit for yourself I put the CalSky link below.
Thierry Legault Astrophotography: http://www.astrophoto.fr/
NASA astronaut Terry Virts on Twitter: https://twitter.com/astroterry
CalSky Space Calendar: http://www.calsky.com/