Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
The moon cast a long shadow over Antarctica on November 23, 2003, in a total solar eclipse. The sun typically hangs low on the horizon during the southernmost continent’s almost-summer months, so when the Moon moved between the Sun and the Earth, its shadow fell in a roughly 500-kilometer long oval like the long shadows of a early summer dawn. The shadow’s long circular shape is the same pattern a flashlight casts an the floor when held at a similar angle.
The moon’s shadow has two parts: the fuzzy outer shadow, the penumbra, and the dark inner shadow, the umbra. Within the umbra, the sun is completely blocked. A person standing on the ground sees a glowing black disk in front of the sun.the disk is the moon, and the glow is the sun’s corona. In the penumbra, the ground observer sees the moon covering part of the sun. Both the penumbra and the umbra are visible in this true-color image.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite captured this image of the eclipse between 22:55 UTC, near the height of the eclipse. The Aqua satellite captured a similar image of the eclipse. The eclipse started at 22:08 UTC, and the shadow passed from the surface of the earth a little over an hour later at 23:20 UTC. The sun’s light was completely blocked at 22:49 for one minute and 55 seconds.
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