We’ve shared some amazing eclipse photos taken from Earth, we’ve even shared some amazing eclipse photos taken of Earth, but today marks the first time we’ve ever had the chance to share eclipse photos taken from the surface of a different planet.
On August 20th, the 369th Martian day of Curiosity’s stay on the Red Planet, the NASA rover pointed its telephoto lens-equipped Mast Camera at the sun to capture something special: an annular solar eclipse on Mars. In all, Curiosity captured some 89 images that show Phobos, the larger of Mars’ two moons, passing in front of the Sun.
In the video at the top, the photos were played at about 2.75 frames per second to match the actual speed of the event on Mars. In 32 seconds you see exactly what Curiosity saw looking up above at the Martian sky.
Unlike our Moon, Mars’ moons are too small to ever totally eclipse the Sun. In fact, according to the folks at NASA, this footage is as close as you could ever get to experiencing a total solar eclipse on Mars:
Because this eclipse occurred near mid-day at Curiosity’s location on Mars, Phobos was nearly overhead, closer to the rover than it would have been earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. This timing made Phobos’ silhouette larger against the sun — as close to a total eclipse of the sun as is possible from Mars.
So be sure to check out the video at the top, and don’t forget to keep reminding yourself over and over what exactly it is you’re looking at. It’s a solar eclipse on another planet… we still can’t quite wrap our minds around that.