Rock from comet slams into moon during eclipse

Telescopes capture moment of impact during eclipse of moon

Astronomers managed to capture the moment of an impact during this week’s eclipsed moon.

Spanish astrophysicist Jose Maria Madiedo of the University of Huelva said Wednesday it appears a rock from a comet slammed into the moon during the total lunar eclipse late Sunday and early Monday. The strike was seen by telescopes in Spain and elsewhere as a bright flash.

READ MORE: Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Madiedo said it’s the first impact flash ever seen during a lunar eclipse, although such crater-forming impacts are common.

The object hit at an estimated 10 miles (17 kilometres) per second, and was 22 pounds (10 kilograms) and 12 inches (30 centimetres) across, according to Madiedo.

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles also recorded the impact during its livestream of the eclipse. A second flash was seen a minute after the first by some observers, said Anthony Cook, an astronomical observer at Griffith.

“It was in the brightest part of the moon’s image,” Cook said of the second suspected strike, “and there might not be enough contrast for the flash to be visible in our video.”

Madiedo said lunar impact monitoring generally is conducted five days before and after a new moon, when flashes can be easily observed. To take advantage of the three-plus-hour eclipse, he set up four extra telescopes in addition to the four he operates at the observatory in Seville. “I did not want to miss any potential impact event,” he explained in an email.

“I could not sleep for almost two days, setting up and testing the extra instruments, and performing the observation during the night of Jan. 21,” he wrote. “I was really exhausted when the eclipse was over.”

READ MORE: Super blood wolf moon fills Okanagan skies, to photographers’ delight

Then computer software alerted him to the impact.

“I jumped out of the chair I was sitting on. I am really happy, because I think that the effort was rewarded,” he said.

Moon monitoring can help scientists better predict the rate of impacts, not just at the moon but on Earth, Madiedo noted. He helps run the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, or MIDAS , in Spain.

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Tahltan fighter from Telkwa wins provincial award

Lando Ball recognized for his commitment to and accomplishments in karate and for community service

RCMP patrol of smokehouse sparks concerns by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader

Hereditary Chief Woos says he is feeling uneasy after RCMP attended the smokehouse with rifles

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Council votes to pen letter to fisheries minister asking for earlier Chinook opening date

The DFO is set to reassess Chinook fishing ban in Skeena River on July 15

Native Women’s Association calls for police reform in wake of recent Indigenous deaths

Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi both recently died following interactions with police

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Community infrastructure funding announced for 24 Northern B.C. projects

Recipients include municipalities, First Nations and not-for-profits

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

Most Read