You are here


A Deeper Look at the SWAP Movie of the March 2015 Eclipse

To read about the PROBA2 eclipse observation campaign and see images of the eclipse, follow this link.

When ESA posted the video of SWAP’s observations of the March 20 solar eclipse on YouTube a number of viewers shared comments and questions about several unexpected aspects of what they saw. A few viewers were so surprised by what they saw that they even wondered if the images were really authentic. The images were most assuredly real, but nonetheless we on the PROBA2 team were likewise intrigued by similarly unexpected things that we saw in the observations.

Some of the questions commenters asked have straightforward — if not exactly simple — answers, while others required us to dig deeper and do some real research of our own to try to address them.

Among the questions raised in the comments were:

  • Why does the Moon move across the Sun from east to west, the opposite direction of motion from what viewers on the ground observed?
  • Why didn’t the Sun appear to rotate in the movies as it does in many movies from PROBA2 and other Sun-observing spacecraft?
  • Why did the Sun change so little during the movies? Shouldn’t there have been some dynamics visible in the corona?
  • Why did the movie play so quickly? Why were there so few frames showing the eclipse?

Let’s have a look at these questions to see what we can learn about the Sun, solar eclipses, and the PROBA2 spacecraft from them.

PROBA2 Views a Total Solar Eclipse - 2015

Updated (25 March 2015): On 2015 March 20, PROBA2 observed a total solar eclipse — twice! The spacecraft's orbit carried it through the darkest parts of the Moon's shadow two times, first between 08:28 and 08:53 UT and again between 10:24 and 10:50 UT. Eclipse chasers, scientists, media and members of the general public have been following our data closely, so we are collecting all of our results and data products in one place for quick access.

SWAP, an Extreme-Ultraviolet solar telescope, observes the solar corona in a passband centered on 17.4 nm. The structures we see in SWAP images have a temperature of approximately 1 million degrees. LYRA, an X-ray/Ultraviolet radiometer observes the total incoming light levels from the Sun in several wavelength bands.

More information about these instruments is available here: SWAP | LYRA.

Exciting press for SWAP

SWAP was recently featured in two ESA stories! SWAP took this week’s Space Science Image of the Week. The image is from 25 July 2014 and is reproduced below. It shows a large coronal-fan structure on the left side of the Sun.

Giving SWAP images a make over - novel image processing techniques

In 2014 Morgan and Druckmuller introduced a new image processing technique to reveal information at the finest scales of solar images, whilst maintaining enough of the larger-scale information to provide context.
Processed SWAP image

Bon anniversaire PROBA2!

Nederlands English

Le 2 novembre 2009, une fusée Rockot décollait de Russie, emportant dans ses flancs le satellite PROBA2, qu'elle plaçait sur orbite quelques heures plus tard. Au cours des cinq années qui ont suivi, PROBA2, dont la mission scientifique est gérée par des membres de l'Observatoire Royal de Belgique à Bruxelles, a effectué plus de 25000 orbites — plus d'un milliard de kilomètres — autour de la Terre, acquis plus d'un million d'images du Soleil, et été le témoin de plus de 6000 éruptions solaires.


Une représentation d'artiste de PROBA2 observant le Soleil. Cliquez sur l'image afin d'obtenir une version haute définition. (Crédit: ESA/PROBA2)

Gelukkige verjaardag PROBA2!

Français English

Op 2 november 2009, bracht een Russische Rockot raket de PROBA2-satelliet in een baan om de Aarde. De wetenschappelijke missie van PROBA2 wordt geleid door wetenschappers van de Koninklijke Sterrenwacht van België in Brussel. In de vijf jaren sedert de lancering draaide PROBA2 al meer dan 25000 rondjes om de Aarde — meer dan een miljard kilometer —, maakte de satelliet meer dan een miljoen beelden van de Zon, en werden meer dan 6000 zonnevlammen waargenomen.


Een artistieke voorstelling van PROBA2 die de Zon waarneemt. Klik op de afbeelding voor de volledige resolutie. (beeld van ESA/PROBA2)

Happy Birthday PROBA2!

Nederlands Français

On November 2, 2009, a Russian Rockot launch vehicle carried the PROBA2 spacecraft into orbit. In the five years since its launch, PROBA2, whose scientific mission is led by scientists at the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels, has completed more than 25,000 trips — more than a billion kilometers — around the Earth, captured more than one million images of the Sun, and witnessed more than 6,000 solar flares.


An artist's conception of PROBA2 at work observing the Sun. Click on the image above for full resolution. (Image courtesy: ESA/PROBA2)



The long-awaited and much-hyped comet ISON surprised astronomers and solar physicists when it mysteriously failed to appear in images from extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) solar telescopes on Thursday. The SWAP solar telescope, on board the Belgium-based ESA mission PROBA2, conducted an extraordinary campaign to image ISON, but failed to detect any sign of the unusual comet.


Subscribe to RSS - PROBA2