During the lunar eclipse, a meteor most likely impacted the moon’s surface and it may be a first-of-its-kind event, as astronomers observe ‘powerful’ flash of light during totality.
Now, astronomers are rushing to hunt down the new lunar crater.
The recent lunar eclipse, on January 20, allowed sky gazers across the western hemisphere to observe a stunning “blood moon” eclipse.
Full Image and Crop. This is stretched since it was rather dark but I have raw sensor data + dark frames for this however no flats. There is mag 8.5 star HIP 39869 in upper left corner as brightness reference. pic.twitter.com/kxWJvZwRzG
— Christian Fröschlin (@chrfrde) January 22, 2019
As people around the world got their telescopes ready to witness what was the decade’s last “blood moon” eclipse, some lucky observers were treated with an unexpected phenomenon: the impact of a meteorite against the lunar surface.
“It’s a rare alignment of infrequent events,” Justin Cowart, a Ph.D. candidate at Stony Brook University in New York was quoted saying by National Geographic.
“An [meteoroid] about this size hits the moon about once a week or so,” Cowart explained.
Now, scientists are saying that if the lunar impact event is confirmed, it could be the first time such an impact has been recorded during a lunar eclipse.
The rapid flash that some vivid observers managed to witness during the lunar eclipse was caused by the impact of a meteorite on the near side of the Moon, in the region obscured by the shadow of our planet.
YouTube user Jm Madiedo published a stunning video of the even on his YouTube account with the following description:
“The impact took place during the totality phase of the lunar eclipse. The flash was produced by a rock (a meteoroid) that hit the lunar ground. The MIDAS Survey is being conducted by the University of Huelva and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia.”
But a number of other netizens seem to have observed the same thing.
One eagle-eyed Reddit user was among the first to report about the impact.
“I saw a bright flash on the moon opposite the remaining sunlit sliver (near the southwestern limb) at 04:41:43, right before the beginning of totality. I ran inside and checked the time and date webcast from Morocco and it was visible there too (see https://imgur.com/VSpNGVi), so it wasn’t an airplane or something else local. It was also visible on the Griffith Observatory webcast (see https://imgur.com/HRVUAxL).”
However, at first, not everyone was convinced and some researchers took the news with a lot of skepticism.
“I was wondering if it was maybe a local effect, or maybe something with the camera,” said planetary scientist Sara Mazrouei of the University of Toronto.
This is mostly because such a phenomenon was never recorded and usually, flashes of light from impacts tend to be faint andextremelyy short, making them relatively easy to confuse with errant pixels.