NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory was uniquely poised Thursday morning to capture an eclipse as viewed from space when the moon passed between it and the sun.
The partial eclipse was not entirely unusual; according to NASA, it happens two to three times a year, but this one was the longest ever recorded, lasting 2 1/2 hours.
NASA wrote about the eclipse, noting how pictures were particularly crisp because the moon has no atmosphere around it to distort the sun’s light.
Watch the footage, which is sped up and shown in different wavelengths of light:
“The movie shows the sun moving quite a bit because SDO has a hard time keeping the sun centered in the image during a transit, because the moon blocks so much light,” NASA said in its description. “The fine guidance systems on the SDO instruments need to see the whole sun in order keep the images centered from exposure to exposure. Once the transit was over, the fine guidance systems started back up, once again providing steady images of the sun.”
As an added bonus, the sun also emitted a solar flare captured by the observatory during the eclipse. This appears just as the moon is starting to exit on the right side of the sun, from the viewer’s perspective.