NASA astronaut witnessed an eclipse from space. It was 'unnatural.'

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An astronaut connected a spacewalk extracurricular nan International Space Station.

An astronaut connected a spacewalk extracurricular nan International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Total Solar Eclipse 2024

In 2024, a uncommon full star eclipse will walk complete nan U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Millions will person nan chance to spot nan satellite wholly artifact retired nan sun, revealing our star's ghostly atmosphere. It's a thrilling event. Here's everything you request to know.


Terry Virts peered down from nan International Space Station successful March 2015. The NASA astronaut saw a massive, different protector formed upon Earth.

"It was this big, acheronian point that wasn't natural," Virts, a retired astronaut and erstwhile International Space Station commander, told Mashable.

He watched a protector created by nan cosmic creation of nan moon, Earth, and sun — specifically nan satellite walking betwixt our satellite and nan sun. It was a total star eclipse, an arena that's technically natural, though a spectacle truthful rare and eerie that it surely doesn't consciousness truthful — either connected Earth aliases successful space.

Looking retired of abstraction position windows, Virts took successful nan awesome protector pinch different astronaut. It traversed nan northbound Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, astronomers tin foretell eclipses — based connected nan mechanics and gravities of nan sun, moon, and Earth — hundreds of years into nan future, truthful these events aren't a surprise. If so, that would person made for immoderate genuinely unsettling observations from space.

"You'd beryllium like, 'What is happening connected Earth?'" Virts said.

Here's what nan eclipse protector looks for illustration from immoderate 250 miles up successful nan space station. It's a uncommon show for a mini group of people: There are typically astir 7 astronauts and cosmonauts aboard nan orbiting residence astatine once.

The 2017 full star eclipse arsenic viewed from nan abstraction station.

The 2017 full star eclipse arsenic viewed from nan abstraction station. Credit: NASA

The satellite casting a protector crossed confederate Turkey, bluish Cyprus, and nan Mediterranean Sea successful March 2006.

The satellite casting a protector crossed confederate Turkey, bluish Cyprus, and nan Mediterranean Sea successful March 2006. Credit: NASA

For Earthlings successful nan halfway of that shadow, aliases what's called nan "path of totality," nan arena is striking. "In my acquisition you can't overhype it," Richard Fienberg, an astronomer and elder advisor astatine nan American Astronomical Society, told Mashable earlier this year. The moon, by temporarily blocking nan sun's blinding aboveground for immoderate 3 to complete 4 minutes (depending wherever you are), reveals our star's ghostly atmosphere, aliases corona. In nan moon's shadow, nan somesthesia drops, and ray fades to heavy twilight. Animals commencement acting strange.

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"It was this big, acheronian point that wasn't natural."

On April 8, 2024, nan way of totality is astir 115 miles wide. Virts emphasizes that you must beryllium successful this way to acquisition a total star eclipse. Outside that path, you'll witnesser a partial eclipse. A partial eclipse is interesting, but simply pales compared to totality.

"On a standard of 1 to ten, a partial eclipse is simply a seven," said Virts, who knowledgeable his first full eclipse from Earth successful 2017. "And a full eclipse is simply a million."

Terry Virts connected a spacewalk successful 2015.

Terry Virts connected a spacewalk successful 2015. Credit: NASA

Following his days arsenic commandant of nan abstraction station, Virts continues his passion for abstraction arsenic an aerospace consultant, author, podcast host, and beyond. To beforehand nan looming full star eclipse, nan ex-astronaut has collaborated pinch Sonic Drive-In — yes, nan burger extremity — a spot he says has immoderate 400 locations successful nan way of totality. (This eclipse passes complete immoderate awesome metropolitan areas, including Indianapolis, Dayton, Dallas, and Cleveland.) If you still request safe eclipse-viewing glasses, Virts said you tin get a free brace pinch Sonic's Blackout Slush Float.

"If it is possible, make nan effort and spell spot this thing," nan erstwhile astronaut said. After all, nan U.S. won't spot different full star eclipse until 2044.

"If it is possible, make nan effort and spell spot this thing."

(Importantly, nan only clip you tin look astatine nan sun without approved eclipse viewers is during a fewer minutes aliases truthful of totality; each different times you must deterioration oculus protection.)

From nan abstraction station, nan position of nan moon's protector was "unnatural," Virts underscored, but location were nary clear, accessible views of nan existent eclipsed sun. Yet weather-permitting, you and millions of others will person nan uncommon chance to witnesser a position of our blackened prima connected April 8. It's not conscionable a position — nan total star eclipse is an experience. You'll moreover get to see immoderate twinkling planets.

"It blew maine away," said Virts. "It's an amazing, astonishing experience."

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Mark is an award-winning journalist and nan subject editor astatine Mashable. After communicating subject arsenic a ranger pinch nan National Park Service, he began a reporting profession aft seeing nan bonzer worth successful educating nan nationalist astir nan happenings successful world sciences, space, biodiversity, health, and beyond. 

You tin scope Mark astatine [email protected].

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