The Difference Between Earth and Moon, in Two Simple Images

NASA ‘s Solar Dynamics Observatory has been monitoring the sun in detail since its launch in February 2010. Its elementary goal is to understand solar unevenness and improve our ability to forecast it, a capability that has the likely to avert serious blackouts, satellite damage, and interruptions to GPS and radio communications. As a side benefit, though, the lookout produces some great scientific art — like this adorable copulate of solar overshadow images. NASA ’ s Solar Dynamics Observatory observed the moon partially eclipsing the sun on March 11 at 8:00 ante meridiem EDT. ( credit : NASA/SDO ) The foremost shows the sunday blotted out by the moon. Note the size of the moon, defined by its curved outline, and the crisp edge. That distinctness is what you see when an airless body passes in front of the sun. All you get is the difficult darkness of light blocked by a big ball-shaped ball of rock. On this scale, all the craters and mountains on the moon are insignificant compared to the moon ‘s overall tidy plumpness. The solar Dynamics Observatory circles 23,000 miles from the Earth ( a distance at which it orbits our planet precisely once a day ) and about 215,000 miles from the moon in this image. The moon therefore looks roughly the same size as the sun. In reality, it is 400 times smaller, but besides more than 400 times closer. nowadays look at the second one, of the sun eclipsed by Earth. The curvature is a lot gentle, for two reasons. First, the Solar Dynamics Observatory is just much closer to Earth than it is to the moon. Second, Earth is closely four times the lunar month ‘s size : 7,913 miles versus 2,160 miles in diameter. But the more dramatic dispute is that the delineate of Earth is decidedly bleary and cushy. What you are seeing is the consequence of atmosphere : cloud, dust, and above all deflection. Air acts as a lens, bending alight. That is what makes stars twinkle at night. That is what makes the setting sun attend rubicund and distorted. hera, the deflective properties of the atmosphere — which get more acute close to the open, where the air is dense — makes Earth ‘s edge very easy. In a sense, the sunlight is twinkling through the atmosphere from the position of the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

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earth passed in battlefront of the sun as seen by NASA ’ s Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 11 at 2:20 ante meridiem EDT. The color hera is artificial ; the image was taken in the extreme ultraviolet ring. ( credit : NASA/SDO ) basically all of the biota on our satellite is sustained by that fiddling piece of blur. The oxygen we breathe, the cycle of water system from the ocean to rainfall and back, and the protective ozone layer all lie within that thin layer. The difference between bleary and crisp is the dispute between a populate and a absolutely global. by the way, you ‘ll besides notice that the sun looks a set unlike in these images than it does when you look up at the sky. The solar Dynamics Observatory has three instruments. One measures magnetism. One measures the sunday ‘s ultraviolet output. And one — the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, which produced the views here — crack pictures of the sun by and large in ultraviolet rays, which are not sensible to the human eye. Ultraviolet images capture details of solar activity that do not show up in visible light. The images are then colorized to make them easier to understand and, yes, to make them prettier. together, the observatory ‘s three instruments gather 150 million bits of information every second base, making it the most data-intensive spacecraft NASA has always created. Follow me on chirrup : @ coreyspowell

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