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The moon bites a chunk out of the sun


On July 26, 2014, from 10:57 a.m. to 11:42 a.m. EDT, the moon crossed between NASAs Solar Dynamics Observatory and the sun, a phenomenon called a lunar transit. This happens approximately twice a year, causing a partial solar eclipse that can only be seen from SDO's point of view. Images of the eclipse show a crisp lunar horizon, because the moon has no atmosphere that would distort light. (NASA/SDO)

On July 26, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) noticed something peculiar about its normally uninterrupted view of the sun — a chunk was missing.

But never fear, a black hole didn’t just show up swallowing some of our nearest star’s superhot plasma, it was just the moon photobombing the sun’s portrait.

PHOTOS: Simmering Solar Views from SDO

The SDO has been continuously watching the sun since 2009. The high-definition space observatory orbits the Earth in a very special way that our planet rarely slips into shot (though, occasionally, even that happens during “eclipse season”).

The moon, however, is a more regular visitor in the SDO’s observations. Approximately twice a year, the moon’s orbit around the sun causes it to drift in front of the sun creating a lunar transit.

Ten Mind-Blowing Solar Views from the SDO

As can be seen from this transit, the edge of the moon is very sharp and defined as our planet’s only natural satellite has no atmosphere. Compare this to when the Earth blocks the solar view and you can see the hazy upper atmosphere allowing some of the brightest active regions penetrate.