On December 14, 2020, a digicam onboard a satellite recorded some thing that seemed like a brown blob streaking across South The us. The online video was so unexpected it may have been mistaken for a technological glitch. Persons on the floor witnessed a little something more placing: a full photo voltaic eclipse, or a daytime blackout brought on by the moon blocking the sun and throwing its shadow on Earth.

Though total solar eclipses transpire relatively frequently—about when every 18 months—seeing them is blessed. The bizarre overlap happens in the course of components of the moon’s orbit when it is near plenty of to seem proportional to the solar from the viewpoint of an individual on Earth. The brown blob captured from place is a time-lapse video of photos of the shadow of the moon as the eclipse moved across our planet’s surface—stretching from the equatorial Pacific to the South Atlantic and passing by southern Argentina and Chile.

The moon’s route elongates by about an inch and a fifty percent every 12 months, having said that. As it stretches away from Earth, the moon will at some point surface far too modest in the sky to protect up the sunshine. In about 600 million yrs, whole eclipses will quit. The non permanent nature of these alignments can make all their recordings important, even when the perspective will make what feels like a boundary-breaking moment—shocking darkness in the middle of the day—seem compact.

Science in Images