See the moon pull an epic double photobomb of the sun

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory got an eyeful of the moon twice this weekend.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a lunar transit.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) normally has a steady, uninterrupted view of the sun. This past weekend, it had to blink twice when it experienced a rare double transit of the moon getting in the way. 

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The moon photobombs NASA's SDO twice in one weekend.


NASA released a time-lapse video on Monday showing the moon moving as a big dark spot across the sun, then heading back across the reddish-orange disk in a different direction. 

The moon hasn't suddenly gone rogue. The double event happened due to some quirks of the spacecraft's travel path.  

"The moon does not, of course, actually change direction, but it appears to do so from SDO's perspective based on the fact that the spacecraft's orbit essentially catches up and passes the Moon during the first transit," the space agency said.

The two transits happened within hours of each other on Sunday. 

The SDO typically sees two or three lunar transits each year, NASA notes. "This double transit shows how complicated the motions of objects can appear even as they move along simple orbits," SDO project scientist Dean Pesnell said in a blog update.

The SDO sees the sun in extreme ultraviolet light, which gives scientists a good look at the star's activities, including dramatic solar outbursts and the formation of snake-like filaments.

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