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ASU cameras capture solar eclipse from moon’s point of view

(ASU Photo)

PHOENIX — As the shadow of last week’s solar eclipse swept across the United States, cameras operated by Arizona State University were snapping photos from thousands of miles away.

The school said a three-camera system on its Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, which are typically pointed at the moon, were realigned to capture the shadow cast by the first lunar eclipse to cross the entire continental U.S. in about a century.

“Planning the image required close cooperation between the LROC team at ASU and the LRO Missions Operations Center at Goddard Space Flight Center,” Mark Robinson, the principal investigator of LROC at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, told ASU News.

The spacecraft was moving about 3,500 mph when it snapped the photo of the shadow, which moved across the country at about 1,500 mph.

The photo was taken as the shadow passed over Nashville about 11:25 a.m. Arizona time. It took 18 seconds for the cameras — two narrow-angle cameras and wide angle camera — to capture the 52,224 lines needed for the image.

“There was very little room for error in both pointing and timing because the Earth is very close to the size of a NAC full-frame image,” Robinson said. “As it turns out, the pointing was accurate to better than 0.06 degrees and timing to a little less than a second.”

ASU also created a sequence of photos to show what the eclipse shadow looked like from space and the area that it covered.

(ASU Photo)

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