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EarthWatch: Shadows from a Solar Eclipse

The first and only total eclipse of 2020 stretched from the equatorial Pacific to the South Atlantic, passing through southern Argentina and Chile. 


Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory:

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens 
Image of the Day story by Michael Carlowicz and Kasha Patel: 
Adaptation to ViewSpace by Sharon Toolan, Margaret Carruthers, and Dani Player 
Music from Music for Nonprofits


View of part of Earth from space. Text, Earth Watch, Exploring the Blue Planet by Satellite.
The entire Earth from space. Text, Earth Watch, Shadows from a Solar Eclipse. Earth Observatory. earth observatory dot nasa dot gov. Advanced Baseline Images, GOES-16 Satellite.
On December 14, the shadow of the Moon crossed Earth's surface, resulting in the only total solar eclipse of 2020.
A dark patch near the bottom of the Earth image is labeled Moon's shadow.
Text, The Path of totality -- the area from which the total eclipse was visible -- was roughly 90 kilometers (60 miles) wide and passed across South America from Chile to Argentina.
Unfortunately, because of thick cloud cover, few were able to enjoy the full experience of this eclipse.
This time-lapse video from GOES-16 satellite includes 72 images captured at 10-minute intervals between 3:00 AM and 3:00 PM in southern Chile.
The darkness of night covers the side of the Earth that faces the camera. Light moves from right to left, revealing the Western Hemisphere. The shadow of the moon near the bottom of the earth is dark brown. It moves across the bottom of the Earth from the left edge and disappears off the right edge.
Text, The shadow cast by an eclipse consists of the completely darkened umbra and the partially shadowed penumbra.
Under clear skies, people standing within the umbra would have experienced a total solar eclipse, with the Moon blocking the Sun completely for about 2 minutes.
The video repeats the same images.
Text, Those in the penumbra would have experienced the less dramatic partial solar eclipse.
While a total solar eclipse of the Sun occurs roughly every 18 months, seeing one from any particular location on Earth is rare.
On average, a solar eclipse passes over the same parcel of land roughly every 375 years.
To learn more, go to earth observatory dot nasa dot gov.