Satellite images of the 2009 total solar eclipse (Lots of images)
The longest solar eclipse of the century is now over, and it's time for the images to start coming in. (In fact, people have already uploaded images to WunderPhotos). While the view from the ground is nice, what about the view of the eclipse from space?
I'm glad you asked. The satellite with the best view was MTSAT-1R which is managed by the Japanese Meteorological Agency which is in in geosynchronous orbit over 140E longitude. And this is what the overall view was like during the eclipse:
Fig. 1 Animation of MTSAT visible imagery over the Northern Hemisphere during the eclipse (Imagery courtesy of JMA).
That dark moving spot moving from China southeastwards into the Pacific Ocean is the Moon's shadow (the umbra, to be precise) moving across the Earth. Since there's a dearth of land in the Pacific, you see the effects of the eclipse by looking for clouds that disappear and then reappear.
If we look at WunderMap, we get a closer view of the eclipse. Look at this image made at ~130UTC and note the black disc around Hangzhou, that's the umbra. The much broader dimmer area (extending east to Japan and south to Taiwan) is the penumbra. (Note, the laptop I used to make the screencaps has an erroneous time zone setting, so please ignore the time in the upper right corner of the following images.)
Fig. 2 WunderMap's visualization of MTSAT data at 0130UTC
An hour later, the umbra has slid southeastwards and is north of the Northern Mariana Island. The umbra stands out as the only cloud free region in the image.
Fig. 3 WunderMap's visualization of MTSAT data at approximately 0230UTC
About 30 minutes later, MTSAT recorded this for it's final view of the 2009 solar eclipse. The umbra has moved past Enewetak Atoll and is heading towards the cloudy Kiribati islands.
Fig. 4 WunderMap's visualization of MTSAT data at approximately 0300UTC
Now, readers of this blog may recall that I made predictions of cloud coverage along the eclipse track (see here. Well, as the previous figures show, it was cloudy over Shanghai and the Ryukyu islands, with minimal high clouds south of Japan and north of the Marianas, which agrees with my forecast. And if we take a close look at Wundermap,
Fig. 5 WunderMap's visualization of MTSAT data at approximately 0300UTC over Enewetak
we see that there were only widely scattered low clouds over Enewetak Atoll. Not a bad forecast.
Here's another MTSAT animation, this time centered over East Asia:
Fig. 6 Animation of MTSAT visible imagery over East Asia during the eclipse (Imagery courtesy of JMA).