The planet Mercury is many millions of miles away from us here on Earth. NASA's space probe Messenger is currently in orbit around the distant planet, but that didn't stop it from engaging in a little sightseeing in the direction of its home when thetook place last week.
As you might imagine, the view from Mercury is quite a bit different than what astronomy fans saw from Earth. Viewers on the blue marble with clear weather got a stunning look at the moon as it went from its usual yellowish self to a reddish hue and then back.
Messenger, however, observed things from so far away, it was more like watching a blip of light fade out and then back in.
NASA's Messenger team took 31 images captured 2 minutes apart over the course of an hour during the eclipse and created an animation showing the moon falling into shadow. "From Mercury, the Earth and moon normally appear as if they were two very bright stars. During a lunar eclipse, the moon seems to disappear during its passage through the Earth's shadow, as shown in the movie," says planetary scientist Hari Nair.
At the time the images were taken, Messenger was 66 million miles away from Earth. It took some manipulation to make the animation clear, including zooming in and an increase in the moon's brightness in the images.
Out of context, the movie wouldn't be impressive at all, but take a moment to think about how we sent a spacecraft 66 million miles off into the galaxy and it was able to turn back and see us and our little moon at a time when many people were looking up into the night sky in wonder.