Stunning solar eclipse caught by NASA in incredible closeup

Moon (black circle) passing in front of the sun (a fiery yellow circle).
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spotted a solar eclipse in space on June 29, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/LMSAL)

A sungazing spacecraft captured the moon passing in front of the face of the sun Wednesday (June 29).

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught the solar eclipse in action from its unique vantage point in space, the only spot where this eclipse was visible.

"At the peak of the eclipse, the moon covered 67% of the sun, and lunar mountains were backlit by solar fire," wrote Wednesday morning EDT. (NASA had not yet commented about the event.)

Related: The sun's wrath: Worst solar storms in history

The sun (fiery yellow circle) is being mostly blocked by the moon (black circle in front).

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a solar eclipse on June 29, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/LMSAL)

SDO usually looks at the sun as the source of space weather, or radiation in space that affects the Earth. Aspects it studies include the sun's magnetic field, sunspots and other aspects that influence activity during the regular 11-year solar cycle.

"SDO studies how solar activity is created and drives space weather. The spacecraft's measurements of the sun's interior, atmosphere, magnetic field, and energy output all work to help us understand the star we live with," NASA wrote of the mission.

Lunar mountains backdropped by the sun during a solar eclipse June 29, 2022 imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Image credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/LMSAL)

SDO launched in February 2010 and forms part of a network of solar spacecraft from NASA and its partner agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The sun has been quite active lately and unusually early in its cycle, which should reach the peak around 2025.

Scientists are interested in following the origin story of solar flares and accompanying coronal mass ejections of charged particles, which can create colorful auroras in Earth's atmosphere if the CMEs are aimed at our planet. Usually CMEs are harmless, but strong bursts may disrupt satellites, power lines and other infrastructure, which is why scientists are so keen on good predictions. 

Notably, NASA has sent a close-up sungazing mission called Parker Solar Probe to investigate the corona or superheated outer region of the sun, as other satellites watch from further away to gain context.

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Elizabeth Howell
Live Science Contributor
Elizabeth Howell is a regular contributor to Live Science and, along with several other science publications. She is one of a handful of Canadian reporters who specializes in space reporting. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Journalism, Science Concentration at Carleton University (Canada) and an M.Sc. Space Studies (distance) at the University of North Dakota. Elizabeth became a full-time freelancer after earning her M.Sc. in 2012. She reported on three space shuttle launches in person and once spent two weeks in an isolated Utah facility pretending to be a Martian.