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.

Just Posted

New Sarepta students host political forum Apr. 10

Political Forum hosted by NSCHS Students

Robbery in Leduc County estimated at $40,000

Leduc RCMP investigate break and enter and theft of firearms

Motorcyclist seriously injured after hit on one-way road in Nisku

Leduc RCMP respond to vehicle versus motorcycle with serious injuries

OPINION: Jason Kenney won by portraying himself as the Guardian of Alberta

How did Kenney do it? He never considered himself an opposition leader and didn’t pretend to be one.

EALT enhanced critical habitat on our lands by planting 263,000 native trees

Celebrating a Decade of Conserving Nature for our Communities

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Calgary’s public school board responds to Syrian child’s suicide after bullying

Amal Alshteiwi, a newcomer to Canada from Syria, took her own life several weeks ago

Child, 11, accidentally shot in the chest at Alberta religious colony

Child taken from Hutterite colony to nearby hospital

Woman in critical condition after motorcycle crash on Edmonton highway

Police say both women were thrown from the bike, and the van continued forward, hitting a Nissan Altima

Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

Many of those who helped that day — first responders and Good Samaritans alike — still affected

New study suggests oilsands greenhouse gas emissions underestimated

New study is the first to use actual field measurements taken from aerial overflights, or top-down measurements

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

As in Ontario, the Alberta platform touts ‘expert advice and counsel from trusted health-care professionals’

Most Read