As the moon took on its red colouring following a partial lunar eclipse, eagle-eyed viewers were treated to another dazzling display as the meteorite hit. The flash was so quick it has taken almost three days since the super wolf blood moon on Sunday, January 20, for astronomers, both professional and amateur, to notice it. A Reddit user was the first to publicly ask about the meteorite, posting on the social media aggregator: “Could this have been a meteor impact on the moon?
“The fact that it was visible from Morocco and California as well as my location in the Northeast United States would seem to rule out something like a straight-on meteor in the Earth’s atmosphere.”
Astronomers quickly sat up and took notice, to discover the meteorite impact, which can be seen in several videos when the incident occurred at 4:41 UTC.
Robert Massey at the Royal Astronomical Society told New Scientist: “The combination of a darkened surface and a lot of people watching made it much more likely that the flash of impact was seen – and it reminds us that the solar system is still a very dynamic place.”
Astrophysicist Jose Maria Madiedo told Gizmodo: “We monitor the nocturnal region of the moon to identify impact flashes. In this way, these flashes are well contrasted against the darker background.
“So, we usually monitor the moon about five days after the new moon, and around five days before the new moon.
“We also monitor during lunar eclipses, since during these eclipses the lunar ground is dark.”
Scientists estimate that the meteorite only weighed around 10 kilograms, but experts will now collect all of the available data, including videos, and browse through to determine where exactly the space rock hit.
Published at Wed, 23 Jan 2019 12:30:00 +0000