July 23, 2009—At one point during yesterday's total solar eclipse, the moon's shadow blotted out Taiwan and a chunk of southeastern China, as seen from space.
A Japanese weather and aviation-control satellite took black-and-white snapshots of Earth just before the start of the solar eclipse and later during totality—when observers on the planet saw the moon completely cover the sun.
The composite pictures above, which were released today, show how Asia might have looked from orbit through human eyes, with the moon's shadow engulfing the region in night-like darkness during the eclipse (right).
(See pictures of yesterday's total solar eclipse as seen from Earth.)
In 2006 astronauts aboard the International Space Station had treated folks at home to a similar picture of a solar eclipse shadow as it crossed central Asia.
Such sights are relatively rare, since the moon's shadow is visible only during a solar eclipse. The next opportunity to see the full shadow will come on July 11, 2010, when a total solar eclipse will cross the Cook Islands, Easter Island, and the southern tip of South America. (See a map of the 2010 solar eclipse's projected path.)