Today's Distraction: Spotting Mountains On The Moon

May 3, 2011

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured some pretty amazing images of a the moon crossing in front of the sun, this morning. There wasn't a solar eclipse on Earth today, but there was one in the orbit of the SDO. If you want more on how a solar eclipse happens in space, Bad Astronomy provides a diagram.

We're more interested in the eye candy:

First, that's not natural color. National Geographic reports that the image was taken in extreme ultraviolet light so you can see the sun's violent magnetic fields.

But, that's not the real reason for the picture's coolness. Wired Science tells us to look closer at that lower left-hand corner of the moon:

That raggedness, those little jagged peaks are actually some of the moon's mountains. Wired reports that besides capturing cool pictures, the images help scientists fine-tune the telescope, because they can count on the smooth edge of the moon, "which helps cancel out errors and jitters and make future images even sharper." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit