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

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Port McNeill council discusses ‘bear aware’ and what you can do to stay safe

Port McNeill’s Conservation Officer Brad Adams gave a presentation about being ‘bear aware’.

Port Hardy RCMP release tips to prevent fraud and theft from vehicles

In many of the incidents reported, “the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked.”

Stranded hikers rescued by helicopter on Mt. Schoen

Campbell River Search and Rescue used hoist operation to rescue trio

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town hit by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

$5-million lotto ticket sold in Nanaimo

Someone matched all six numbers in Wednesday’s 6/49 draw

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Most Read