Rare sight of moon’s elusive shadow caught by satellite cameras during solar eclipse

Monday’s total solar eclipse — the only one of 2020 — afforded scientists a rare chance to catch a celestial ghost on video: The moon’s giant shadow crawling across the Earth.

“Yesterday’s total solar eclipse provided a spectacular show … where the moon temporarily moved in front of the sun,” NOAA Satellite and Information Service reported.

“NOAA’s GOES East satellite had a bird’s-eye view from above, and the 16 channels … helped us ‘see’ the event in different ways.”

NOAA shared multiple clips on Facebook and Twitter, all captured in daylight and sped up to crunch five hours into seconds. They show the ghostly shadow flying out of the Pacific, crossing the southern tip of South America, then disappearing into the South Atlantic.

A GeoColor view captured by the same satellite shows the shadow as a giant brown blob, rolling over hundreds of miles at a time. This is “an approximation to how the human eye would observe it during the day,” NOAA said.

GOES East is a geostationary satellite positioned 22,000 miles above the earth, orbiting at a speed that matches the planet’s rotation, NOAA said.

“The satellite’s high-resolution imagery provides optimal viewing of severe weather events, including thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes,” NOAA said.

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