The first solar eclipse of 2014 darkened the sky in Antarctica and Australia on April 29. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a true-color image of the view of the Earth under the solar eclipse.
This image is centered in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia. The water appears black, and is covered with bright white marine cumulus cloud. Where the moon passed in front of the sun, and the shadow cast by the moon is the heaviest, the clouds appear gray. To the east of this area the planet’s surface and part of the cloud appears yellowish brown. This is the partially shadowed area, the penumbra.
The April 29 event was an annular solar eclipse, which means that the moon appears to pass centrally across the sun, yet it is too distant from the sun to completely obscure it from view. Like a dime placed over a penny, the larger object can be seen as a ring around the smaller, creating what is known as the “ring of fire” effect, where the edge of the blazing sun can be seen behind the black moon.
Despite the dramatic nature of this eclipse, the annular ring was not seen by any humans, as such views were restricted only a very small swath of land in remote Antarctica. Australia, however, was in range for excellent views that, although less dramatic, were interesting and showed the dark moon obscuring part of the bright sun. The Perth Observatory obtained photographs of the event. These can be viewed at http://www.perthobservatory.wa.gov.au/Sun/Eclipse.html