Photo of the Week: The Moon’s Eclipse Orbit captured from the International Space Station


Photo of the Week: The Moon’s Eclipse Orbit captured from the International Space Station

The moon reached its first-quarter phase, as observed from the International Space Station (ISS), on March 19, 2024. In this particular photo, the moon is visible from a vantage point of 270 miles (435 kilometers) above the South Atlantic Ocean. This moment is significant because the moon is set to be eclipsed by Earth in the early hours of March 25, followed by a total eclipse of the sun on April 8.

The first-quarter phase of the moon occurs about a week after a new moon and a week before a full moon. The photo was captured by the ISS during a unique orbit of the moon. Monday, March 25, marks the beginning of the first “eclipse season” of 2024, a period when lunar and solar eclipses can occur over a span of 35 days.

During the early hours of March 25, the moon will be full and eclipsed by Earth. However, this eclipse will not be a perfect alignment, resulting in a penumbral lunar eclipse where the moon passes through Earth’s outer shadow. The event is expected to take place between 12:53 and 5:32 a.m. EDT, peaking at 3:12 a.m. EDT.

Following this lunar eclipse, a total eclipse of the sun is anticipated on April 8, coinciding with the New Pink Moon. This alignment, known as syzygy, will lead to a central solar eclipse where the new moon entirely obscures the sun. North America will witness at least a partial solar eclipse, with a 115-mile-wide path of totality offering a total solar eclipse experience. Total solar eclipses typically occur twice in the same location every 366 years, according to recent NASA research.

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