The 2016 spring eclipse season is upon us! Well… not necessarily upon us Earthlings, but rather for NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO). These seasons generally last around three weeks and usually take place twice a year, around the equinoxes.

This animation was made with images taken in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of 304 angstroms on Feb. 22, 2016. This type of light is typically invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in red. Image via NASA.

The eclipses happen as the Earth blocks SDO’s view of the sun for a period of time each day. The eclipses are usually quite short, lasting for only three minutes on average. Most spacecraft observing the sun from an orbit around Earth have to contend with such eclipses, but SDO’s orbit is designed to minimize them as much as possible, as they block observations of the sun. The spring season will end on March 12, 2016.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is a NASA mission which has been observing the Sun since 2010. The goal is to “develop the scientific understanding necessary to effectively address those aspects of the connected Sun–Earth system directly affecting life and society.” NASA also publishes a gallery of brilliant images taken by the SDO, which you can access for free here.

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