A spectacular sight was captured by astronauts on a spacewalk when they seized the moment and took pictures of the International Space Station (ISS) as it crossed the Sun.
Shadows were cast on three sets of sunspots – large enough to swallow two Earths at once.
Two NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoberg exit the ISS to install a new solar array.
The image was captured on June 9 by Thierry Legault, a French astrophotographer who made the six-hour journey with his 220-pound telescope to save images from the International Space Station.
“The transit lasts less than a second,” he explained internaladding that he was lucky to take the pictures because “45 minutes later a big cloud hides the sun.”
The ISS completes its orbit around the Earth in just 90 minutes and spends only 0.75 seconds traveling in front of the Sun. For these types of images, this job requires the most skilled astrophotographers.
A brief clip shows the ISS seen crossing three sets of Suns, which in itself, is extremely rare.
Sunspots are places where the Sun’s magnetic field is unstable, leading to flares—massive explosions that send energy and high-speed particles into space.
These solar flares have previously been thought to be responsible for radio blackouts on Earth, as well as creating spectacular auroras or northern lights.
According to NASA, charged particles from solar flares can also pose some radiation risk to astronauts, especially if they are outside the ISS on a spacewalk.
Therefore, astronauts keep a close watch on flares to avoid any damage or injury.
The sun’s activity is increasing as it approaches the peak of its decade of activity.
The ISS orbits our planet about 250 miles above Earth, while the Sun is 93 million miles away.