- “Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one’s timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare,” according to NASA.
The photo meshes two photos together, one of the space station transiting the sun and another capturing the details of the sun’s actual surface, which is also rare, according to NASA.
The photo also shows the sun without any sunspots, which is a rare sight as well, according to NASA.
- “Sunspots have been rare on the Sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. For reasons not yet fully understood, the number of sunspots occurring during both the previous and current solar minima have been unusually low,” according to NASA.
Context: The solar activity cycle lasts for 11 years. When there’s a solar minimum, it’s the lowest point of solar activity, according to Weather.com.
- “And that is why no sunspots are visible in the picture. Conversely, when solar activities are at their peak, giant eruptions like solar flares and coronal mass eruptions become common.
- “These activities can affect Earth too. The powerful bursts of energy sent into space by the Sun, can cause auroras and affect the radio signals along with the electricity grid on Earth,” according to Weather.com.