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Awesomeness Round-up – 12/27/10

You might be aware that last week on Earth there was a total lunar eclipse. That’s when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth; this is different that a solar eclipse, which is when the Moon moves between the Earth and the Sun, temporarily obscuring the Sun. Another word for a solar eclipse is a “transit”. It’s not just the Moon that can transit across the Sun – Venus and Mercury lie between us and the Sun, and occasionally, they will transit across the face of it too.

This phenomena can happen on other planets as well. The Mars Rover Opportunity’s panoramic camera caught this partial eclipse, or transit, of the larger of Mars’ moons, Phobos, across the Sun. This video is approximately true-speed! So sit back, relax, and pretend you’re on Mars, looking up at the Sun on the Earth date of November 9, 2010.

(Embedded video from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology)

There’s also a lovely sunset video at the source link.

But back to Earth. There are lots of great photos of last week’s lunar eclipse on Flickr, like this one of the moon above the Washington Monument.

Total Lunar Eclipse (201012210004HQ)
Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

This photo from a Goddard engineer is lovely too, as is this one of the eclipse seen over the nose of the space shuttle which was being rolled from the launch pad back to the VAB.

The last batch of the “Week in the Life of Goddard” photos are up – the best overall.

Moon over Building 5The moon over Building 5

NASA Goddard also just put up this movie showing a year in images for 2010.

Santa did an interview with Science @ NASA to talk about how he’d deliver presents to other planets.

There’s a new “Behind the Webb” video podcast out, this one about Webb’s sunshield.


  • murena says:

    Why is Phobos moving from bottom to top of the sun and not from west to east like it moves across the sky? Is this animation titled?

  • Maggie Masetti says:

    Hi Murena,

    Good question, and I don’t have an answer for you. I suppose it’s possible it’s tilted, but I don’t know for sure. You’re right that Phobos does move west to east though. There’s an email address at the bottom of the news release – you might ask them!

  • murena says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. And the answer is:
    “The transit occurred late in the afternoon, with the sun above the western horizon. So Phobos is indeed climbing in the western sky as part of its west-to-east track across the sky.”

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