Color Satellite View of Solar Eclipse

March 20th, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Here’s a NASA MODIS view of this morning’s solar eclipse from the Terra polar-orbiting satellite. Terra takes a “snapshot” as it passes over every ~100 minutes, and this montage shows three successive orbits, with the second orbit capturing the effect of the eclipse on the solar illumination of the landscape and clouds. Note the distinctive difference in color (click image for full-size):

NASA's Terra satellite MODIS imager captures effects of the solar eclipse on March 20, 2015.

NASA’s Terra satellite MODIS imager captures effects of the solar eclipse on March 20, 2015.


4 Responses to “Color Satellite View of Solar Eclipse”

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  1. jimc says:

    Svalbard. There’s a town there?
    Interesting, the earth makes the moon look red, but the moon make the earth look brass.

    • I am intrigued by the coloration that is apparently caused somehow by the moon’s shadow.

      I can think of a reason that explains some but probably not most of this: The sun’s surface is not uniform in color as seen by us, but more orangish-yellowish towards the edge of the sun’s “disk” than towards the center. This is caused by light from near the edge of the sun’s disk having to pass a greater distance through the sun’s lower atmosphere.

      Another possibility I can speculate about is that in the moon’s shadow, most of the light at the cloudtop level in the that part of the world may be from orangish sky light near the horizon, or from distant, more-illuminated, higher clouds whose refracted/reflected light has to pass through a lot of atmosphere.

      • jimc says:

        I have noticed that in photos of them during a total solar eclipse, the solar ring looks golden. So, your first explanation sounds valid.

  2. ronaldo says:

    Very interesting, thank you. Observing from northern England under complete light cloud cover there was no glimpse of the discs, however both my wife and I commented on the yellow/brownish tinge to the transmitted light.