The Best and Strangest Views of Solar Eclipses from Space

This Sunday there will be a total solar eclipse over the south Pacific Ocean, Chile and Argentina. Watching solar eclipses from Earth is a rare occurrence. Watching them from space is extraordinarily rare. Here are the best photos and videos.

The first time that a solar eclipse was observed from space was in November 1966, during Gemini XII, the last mission of the Gemini program.

James Lovell—who later became the commander of Apollo 13—was the Command Pilot. Buzz Aldrin—mission pilot, later Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot and second man on the Moon—demonstrated the feasibility of true extra-vehicular activity for two hours and 20 minutes, following the underwater training that he pushed to introduce at NASA. He accomplished various chores, including taking these photos of the solar eclipse:

The Best and Strangest Views of Solar Eclipses from Space

The Best and Strangest Views of Solar Eclipses from Space

After that, solar eclipses have been observed from space very few times and from very different perspectives. NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft—which is solely dedicated to observe our home star—had the opportunity to take this amazing video:

Even more strange is watching the Moon's shadow over the Earth's surface. Perhaps the most spectacular—and ominous—photo of this effect was taken by French astronaut Jean-Pierre Haignere before leaving the Mir space station. It was August 11, 1999, and the moon shadow was passing over Europe.

The Best and Strangest Views of Solar Eclipses from Space

View gallery »