• NASA launched the SDO to observe the Sun from Earth's orbit
  • An eclipse from the SDO's perspective is currently happening
  • The eclipse could cause a rare event known as a blackout

This year’s second eclipse season for NASA’s solar satellite has already started. The cosmic event, which offers a rare glimpse of the sun from space, is expected to last for about 10 days.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is a robotic probe launched by NASA on Feb. 11, 2010. Since then, the satellite has been observing the sun from a geosynchronous orbit, which means it has an orbital period that matches Earth’s rotation. This type of orbital path was selected to maximize the amount of data collected by the SDO to be sent back to Earth.

On Tuesday, the SDO was able to capture rare images of the sun as an eclipse took place. According to NASA, the eclipse season involving the SDO usually happens semiannually during the first and second halves of the year. The cosmic event occurs when the Earth moves in between the sun and the satellite, which then obscures the latter’s view of the former.

NASA noted that like the SDO, other spacecraft and satellites orbiting Earth in a geosynchronous orbit also experience the eclipse.

“SDO’s eclipse season is a three-week period that comes twice a year near the equinoxes during which Earth blocks SDO’s view of the Sun for a short while each day,” NASA explained in a statement. “The eclipses are fairly short near the beginning and end of the season but ramp up to 72 minutes in the middle. Most spacecraft observing the sun from an orbit around Earth have to contend with such eclipses.”

In the photo captured by the SDO, Earth’s shadow can be seen covering almost half of the sun. This event usually happens around 7:00 a.m. UT or 3:00 a.m. EDT, according to The site noted that the entire eclipse season is expected to last for about 10 days.

Although the eclipses are fairly short for now, they will get longer within the next couple of days. During this period, a rare cosmic phenomenon known as a blackout might occur, which happens when Earth’s shadow completely covers the sun. From the SDO’s perspective, blackouts appear as pitch-black images.

SDO Image
Image of the Sun captured by the SDO Satellite Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA