The Sun is a star, one that is constantly in the spotlight. It's not easy to steal attention away from the giant burning ball of plasma that lights up our world, but another, rather smaller cosmic object tried anyway.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recently caught the Moon being cheeky, photobombing the Sun during its closeup view.
Perhaps nobody knows the Sun better than the scientists who operate the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The space observatory has been staring at the star non-stop for 10 years now, snapping a picture of the Sun every 0.75 seconds, and beaming it back to Earth for analysis.
Over the past decade, the observatory has captured 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun.
But on October 16, the space observatory found its view interrupted as it tried to capture our star in all its glory.
What the observatory captured instead was a lunar transit. This is when the Moon passes between the observatory and the Sun, blocking the satellite's view of the star.
This particular lunar transit lasted for about 50 minutes, between 3:05 p.m. and 3:53 p.m. Eastern. When it was at its peak, the Moon was covering around 44 percent of the Sun.
The Moon didn't just ruin the Sun's closeup — it also distorted the solar observatory's instruments. During the transit, the Moon covered two of the observatory's guidance sensors, which caused its view of the Sun to be slightly jumbled up for a few short seconds.
But once the Moon was out of frame, the Sun appeared in just as sharp detail as ever.
The video holds other curious information, too. It reveals two regions in the lower half of the Sun, one on each side, that appear to be active — coinciding with the beginning of Solar Cycle 25.
Every 11 years or so, the Sun begins a new solar cycle, which is typically marked by periods of violent eruptions and magnetic explosions that can send flashes of radiation into space.
Changes in the solar cycle are measured by changes in the Sun's activity. Periodically, our star ejects boiling-hot plasma, in the form of solar flares and solar wind, across the Solar System. Halfway through each cycle, the Sun's activity starts increasing, meaning more solar flareups and outflow of radiation from our host star. As the solar cycle winds down, the Sun becomes less active.
The latest solar cycle appears to have kicked off in December, 2019, and will peak in the year 2025.
Around that time, more regions of the Sun will appear to be flaring up with solar eruptions.
Let's hope the Moon will not attempt another photobomb around that time, blocking our view of our host star's raging activity.