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

Revelstoke cadet attends general training course

The course took place in Vernon and covers sports, drill, marksmanship and expedition skills

Revelstoke Library hosting National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year

Jennifer Pharr Davis will be doing a public presentation July 20

Rich the Vegan scootering across Canada for animal rights

He scootered through Revelstoke July 12

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Dump truck lifts power lines causing fire near South Okanagan school

Emergency responders dealt with two incidents at the same time near KVR Middle School

Car thief to be sentenced in Kelowna B.C. Supreme Court

Stanley Nickason is set to plead guilty on multiple charges

Anglican Church rejects same-sex marriage amendment; will not add policy to national laws

The Church doesn’t prohibit same-sex marriage outright

UPDATED: Lane closed after fatal collision on Highway 97 east of Falkland

A man in his 60s is dead after a single vehicle crash on July 15

Wildfire crews working small blaze in South Okanagan

BC Wildfire said a fire north east of Oliver was ignited on Sunday night

Health Canada revokes licences of B.C.-based pot producer Agrima Botanicals

The agency said it notified the company of a suspension in November due to non-compliance with regulations

Deals, protests during Amazon Prime Day

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth says it is offering more than a million deals

Most Read