Meteorite impact spied on the moon during a total lunar eclipse

Shane McGlaun - Jan 23, 2019, 6:37am CST
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Meteorite impact spied on the moon during a total lunar eclipse

The biggest news in astronomy and space fanatic circles over the last week or so has been the total lunar eclipse that happened recently. The eclipse was visible in many parts of the world, and for those that couldn’t see it in person, a live stream of the eclipse was put online. During the eclipse, an eagle-eyed observer viewing the moon through binoculars noticed something interesting.

The amateur astronomer took to Reddit to ask if anyone else saw the bright flash on the moon during the eclipse to confirm his suspicions. After some sleuthing, the original poster and others were able to find the bright flash in several videos from streams taken by different observatories. Ultimately, some astronomers noticed the Reddit thread and weighed in on the flash with their opinions.

It was decided that what was recorded during the total lunar eclipse was, in fact, a meteorite impact on the surface of the moon. The impact can be seen in the image above, as pointed out by the white arrow. The bright flash was exceedingly brief.

Astronomer Jose Maria Madiedo from the University of Huelva in Spain has confirmed the impact is genuine. He added that he and colleagues had for years hoped to observe a meteorite impact on the moon during a total lunar eclipse.

This is a challenge due to the brightness of the events. Lunar meteorite impacts have been filmed previously; this marks the first time one was filmed during a total lunar eclipse. No formal calculations on the size of the meteorite that hit the moon have been made, but Madiedo thinks the object was about two kilograms and roughly the size of a football.


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