During a total eclipse event on July 2, 2019 the shadow of the Moon passed across the southern Pacific Ocean and parts of Chile and Argentina. For viewers on Earth the event briefly turned the daytime sky to night as the Moon completely blocked the Sun, but for one spacecraft orbiting far beyond the Moon there was this view of a distant Earth past the lunar limb, with the Moon’s shadow visible as a dark spot.The image seen here is one in a series that was captured by the student-built Inory Eye camera aboard DSLWP-B, aka Longjiang-2, a microsatellite that at the time had been orbiting the Moon for a little over a year.
The dark spot on Earth is the Moon’s shadow over the Pacific off the western coast of Chile, captured at around 19:00 UTC on July 2, 2019. This version has been re-oriented from the original so the horizon of the Moon runs along the bottom (north on Earth is aimed to the upper left) and color-adjusted to approximate natural color. You can find the original version and others from the Inory Eye camera here.
The commands to image the July 2019 eclipse were planned by MingChuan Wei of China’s Harbin Institute of Technology and uploaded to the spacecraft by German amateur radio astronomer Reinhard Kühn. The resulting data were received by the amateur-operated Dwingeloo Telescope in The Netherlands (thanks to Tammo Jan Dijkema for the information.)
Later that same month, on July 31, 2019, the DSLWP-B satellite crashed onto the Moon at 14:20 UTC in a planned impact maneuver. It had successfully operated for a total of 437 days in lunar orbit prior to impact.
Longjiang-2/DSLWP-B’s exact impact site was observed in October 2019 by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The 47-kg spacecraft formed a crater about 4 x 5 meters in diameter.
Image credit: MingChuan Wei (Harbin Institute of Technology, BG2BHC/BY2HIT), CAMRAS Dwingeloo Radio Telescope, Reinhard Kühn DK5LA. Image edit by Jason Major.