SpaceX launched its 12th Falcon 9 rocket of the year Thursday from California with Taiwan’s Formosat 5 Earth observation satellite. The two-stage rocket lifted off at 11:51 a.m. PDT (2:51 p.m. EDT; 1851 GMT) and deployed the Taiwanese-built spacecraft into polar orbit. The Falcon 9’s first stage booster successfully landed on a drone ship downrange in the Pacific Ocean.
With thrilling cosmic clockwork, the moon will pass in front of the sun Monday, casting a 70-mile-wide shadow that will sweep across the United States from coast to coast, giving millions along the “path of totality” a chance to marvel at one of nature’s grandest spectacles, a total eclipse of the sun.
As skywatchers and scientists converge on a transcontinental band of totality for Monday’s solar eclipse in the United States, engineers in Europe are building a unique pair of satellites to create artificial eclipses lasting for hours — a feat that that could be a boon for solar physicists but will escape the view of Earth-bound spectators.