Saturday, July 6, 2019


While millions of people enjoyed a spectacular view of last Tuesday's total eclipse in Chile and Argentina, only one lonely satellite watched it from the Moon. China's Longjiang-2 microsat was flying over the farside of the Moon when the eclipse began. Earth popped over the horizon just in time for these remarkable shots:

The circular dark spot is the Moon's shadow, plunging the ground below into the kind of cool, otherworldly darkness that only happens during a solar eclipse. People on the outskirts of the shadow witnessed a partial eclipse. People in the inky-black core experienced totality.
Built at the Harbin Institute of Technology in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, the 47-kg microsatellite was sent into space on May 21, 2018, together with the Chang'e-4 lunar probe's relay satellite "Queqiao." Longjiang-2's main camera, a tiny CMOS device weighing only 20 grams, has been photographing the farside of the Moon ever since. These rare photos of the eclipse are bringing an end to its mission, however. Chinese controllers plan to de-orbit Longjiang-2 at the end of the month, crashing it into the Moon.

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