Human Journey

Eclipse Photo: First “Diamond Ring” Seen From the Moon

Japan proposed, and Kaguya said yes.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) yesterday released what’s being touted as the first ever picture of a penumbral eclipse as seen from the moon.


—Image copyright JAXA/NHK

The moon-orbiting probe Kaguya (named for a lunar princess in Japanese folklore) snapped the high-definition footage on February 10 as Earth moved between the moon and the sun.

From our planet’s surface, the lunar eclipse was barely noticeable, as the moon was moving through the outer parts of Earth’s shadow—the penumbra—where only some sunlight gets blocked.

But from the moon, the disk of the Earth almost fully covered the sun. During the progression of this unusual eclipse, Kaguya caught sight of the so-called diamond ring effect.

Diamond rings are normally seen from Earth during solar eclipses. As the moon moves between the sun and Earth, slight bumps and grooves on the lunar surface cause sunlight shining from behind to “bead” around the edges.

When the moon is slightly offset from the sun, a single bead can shine brightest, creating the appearance of a gem perched on of a ring of light.

This time, though, Earth played the part of the moon, blotting out the sun from Kaguya’s perspective.

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