Last week, NASA released a glorious animated GIF of the moon passing in front of the Earth that looked like a bad Photoshop cut-and-paste.
The Deep Space Climate Observatory, the spacecraft to which the pictures were credited, is located at the L1 Lagrangian Point, a fancy name for the point in space nearly a million miles away where the gravitational pull of the sun and of the Earth essentially cancel out.
Adam Szabo, the NASA scientist in charge of Dscovr’s Earth-facing camera, said via email, “As the small sliver of shadow at the right edge of the moon shows, Dscovr is about 5 degrees away from the sun-Earth line. Thus, when the moon is between Dscovr and Earth, it is not exactly between the sun and Earth, so no eclipse.”
By the way, the side of the moon seen in the animation is the far side, not the dark side. Just as on Earth, half of the moon is always in darkness – nighttime, in other words – but the far side is not continually dark. “The moon will be completely outside the camera’s field of view,” Stephen Cole, a NASA spokesman, said via email.
“But if orbital mechanics work out just right, EPIC” – as NASA calls the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera aboard the spacecraft – “Could capture the moon’s round shadow moving across the equator. The moon itself may also be in the field of view.”-KENNETH CHANG..