Mars rover captures incredible video of solar eclipse

Originally published at: Mars rover captures incredible video of solar eclipse | Boing Boing


did not know Phobos was “potato shaped” but so it is, and this is long well established (hunh)

Facts about Phobos

  • Phobos’s orbit is so fast it would appear to an observer on the planet to rise in the west and set in the East twice each Martian day.

  • As Phobos orbits, it is getting closer to the planet as time goes by. Eventually, it will be destroyed by Mars’s tidal forces in several tens of millions of years. It will very likely break up in orbit and its pieces will scatter onto the surface and spread out along the orbit, possibly creating a short-lived ring.

  • Phobos’s shadow has been photographed on the surface of Mars by several spacecraft.

  • Phobos is roughly potato-shaped and has a large crater called Stickney. Many of its largest features are named after places in the novel Gulliver’s travels.


Gorgeous! But to be pedantic I’d say that’s a transit rather than an eclipse.


I rather hope that humanity ,or its descendants, will have figured out by then enough physics and engineering to be able to keep it from falling indefinitely, or even punt it out into a more stable orbit permanently. Or, in my favorite bit of solar engineering, scoot Venus out Mars way, so Mars can snarf some atmosphere, and being a moon of Venus should kickstart Venusian plate techtonics as it cools off, as well as give Mars a bit of a magnetic shield via Venus.


It really is quite coincidentally amazing that our Moon happens to be about 400 times smaller than the Sun, but that the Sun happens to be about 400 times further from the Earth than the Moon is. So the apparent disk of the Moon is almost exactly the size of the apparent disk of the Sun. Stuff like that makes me think that we’re living in a simulation.


The rovers had a camera capable of taking solar shots, then landed it in area that was going to be in area of a Martian moon/sun transit eclipse, and they knew about it? As Bill O’Reilly would say, “You can’t explain that.”

if you watch this video of the transit, but have the spacejam daffy basketball players video playing at the same time, you get great trippy music for a Nasa film!


But make the most of it while you can as the moon is moving away from the earth so in a few million years the best we will get are annular eclipses. Likewise with Saturn’s rings eventually they will disappear into the planet itself.


Where do we draw the line between transit and annular eclipse?


Unfortunately I think the opposite might be more likely.

That was actually a plot point in a book I remember reading. It’s so amazingly rare that the best way to spot alien visitors to earth is to look through the crowds at eclipse viewings. Aliens would come from all over to watch it incognito.

And it’s driving me nuts that I can no longer remember what book that was from. Part of me wants to say it’s from Hitchhiker’s or Dirk Gently, but the rest of me suspects that that’s because of the general tendency to attribute any humorous SF writing to Douglas Adams.


somewhere there is a civilization that has absolutely no special “coincidences” or unique conditions about it’s celestial location… i guarantee that place is the simulation

if it weren’t special, we wouldn’t notice. but something, by chance, would always have been special enough to notice.

( also, yeah. it’s pretty cool. :slight_smile: )

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All hail the Great Space Potato! Which coincidentally looks like a protozoa crossing a microscope’s field of view in 7th grade science class… As above, so below!

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I haven’t read it, but it sounds like “Transition” by Iain M Banks (2009).

Here’s a quote I found:

So lets think about eclipses for a moment. Even if we haven’t seen an eclipse personally, we’ve seen photographs in magazines or the footage on television or youtube. We are almost blasé about them; they are just stuff that happens on our planet, like weather or earthquakes only not destructive, not life threatening.

But think about it. What an incredible coincidence it is that our moon fits exactly over our sun. Talk to astronomers and they’ll tell you that Earth’s moon is relatively much bigger than any other moon around any other planet. Most planets, like Jupiter or Saturn and so on, have moons that are tiny in comparison to themselves. Earth’s moon is enormous, and very close to us. If it was smaller or further away you’d only ever get partial eclipses; bigger or closer and would hide the sun completely and there’d be no halo of light round the moon in totality. This is an astounding coincidence, an incredible piece of luck. And for all we know, eclipses like this are unique. This could be a phenomenon that happens on Earth and nowhere else. So hold that thought eh?

Now supposing there are aliens. Not E.T aliens - not that cute or alone. Not Independence Day aliens - not that crazily aggressive - but, well, regular aliens. Yeah?..

But what I want to propose to you is that, as well as all those other wonders, they want to see that one precious thing that we have and probably no one else does. They’d want to see our eclipse. They’d want to look through the Earth’s atmosphere with their own eyes and see the moon fit over the sun, watch the light fade down to almost nothing, listen to the animals nearby fall silent and feel with their own skins the sudden chill in the air that comes with totality…

…So that’s where you look for aliens. In the course of an eclipse totality track


That’s it! Thanks!

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