Viewing Monday’s solar eclipse from the ground was awesome, but seeing a major celestial event from space is undeniably cooler. Six lucky astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) got that opportunity and have shared their jaw-dropping photos with the world.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the sun from our perspective on Earth. If you see the eclipse, it means you’re in the path of the moon’s shadow as it crosses the planet. The ISS astronauts got a great view of that shadow; if we could zoom out further on these images, we would see the moon and sun 238,900 miles and 92.96 million miles above the shadow, respectively.
The ISS must have been somewhere near North America to have gotten this great view, but it’s hard to know exactly where it was because the photos have no time stamp and the station moves extremely quickly. It flies at nearly 17,900 miles per hour and orbits the Earth 16 times a day, once every 90 minutes.
Astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who is currently on a long duration mission to the ISS, tweeted that he was using a camera with a solar filter and 400 mm lens to photograph the eclipse. Here are some other cameras they were using:
And here’s another cool video showing the eclipse shadow moving across the land. It was captured by a weather satellite:
SpaceX will charge two tourists about $35 million to fly around the moon in 2018. It seems like only a matter of time before companies allow tourists to view eclipses from space — but man, how many millions is that going to cost?