Science

Astronauts see only the 2021 total solar eclipse from the space station (photos)

Astronauts on the International Space Station were able to glimpse the only total solar eclipse of 2021, which was otherwise only visible to a few lucky observers in Antarctica.

The eclipse, which began on Saturday (December 4) at 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT), saw the seven space travelers currently inhabiting the International Space Station squeeze into the Dome, the panoramic dome attached to the Tranquility node of the station, to enjoy the fascinating spectacle, according to NASA astronaut Kayla Barron.

“On Saturday morning, the Expedition 66 crew went into the Dome to watch the total solar eclipse that occurred over Antarctica and the Southern Ocean,” Barron said in a tweet, sharing two snapshots of the screen seen by the crew of the space station. “Here the moon casts an oblong shadow on the surface of the Earth. It was an incredible sight to behold.”

Related: Wholeness! Solar eclipse reaches its maximum point over Antarctica (video)

The eclipse peaked around 2:44 am EST (0744 GMT) with two minutes of totality, during which the entire solar disk was protected by the moon. A small strip of sun reappeared shortly after, gradually squeezing the shadow of the moon. At 3:06 am (0806 GMT), the solar eclipse ended.

In addition to the astronauts and cosmonauts at the orbital outpost, a few thousand researchers currently working at science bases in Antarctica were able to enjoy the rare phenomenon. With them, several hundred thousand emperor penguins were probably staring at the suddenly darkened sky in amazement.

Wealthy stargazers could squeeze in on one of the eclipse-watching flights departing from Santiago, Chile and Melbourne, Australia, asking for between $ 6,000 and $ 9,000 per seat.

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The partial eclipse was visible from parts of Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa. Partial solar eclipses, however, are much less spectacular, since the brightness of the sun dwarfs the shaded parts and it is dangerous to look at the partially covered solar disk without special lenses for observing eclipses or simple projectors.

The next total solar eclipse will take place on April 20, 2023, this time treating a much larger portion of the world’s population, as it will be visible from large portions of South and East Asia.

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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