A Meteor Hits the Moon During the Eclipse

Meteor impact on the Moon, 2019-01-21During the recent lunar eclipse (the date on which it occurred depends upon your time zone: mid-eclipse was at 05:12 UTC on 2019-01-21, while the eclipse occurred on the evening of January 20th in western hemisphere time zones) several amateur astronomers capturing the eclipse on video observed a flash of light, just a single video frame, near the limb of the eclipsed Moon just at the beginning of the umbral phase.

The fact that three observers in different locations have so far reported the same flash excludes other explanations such as a reflection off an Earth satellite or a “point meteor” burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere on a trajectory pointed directly at the observer.

This is not the first time an impact has been observed on the Moon.  A number of observers monitor the dark portion of the Moon for flashes of impacts, some using both infrared and visual sensors.  An infrared sensor can observe the afterglow of the impact and provide an estimate of the energy released by the event.  Follow-up observations by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have, on several occasions, found the fresh craters created by observed impacts.  This is, however, the first impact observed during a lunar eclipse.  This has no scientific significance whatsoever, but it’s cool.  The people who saw it were the first humans ever to witness such an event.  I’ve observed another event never seen by a human before the day I spotted it, and it’s something I’ll long remember.

Here is a video by Scott Manley about the event and other observations of lunar meteor impacts.

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

7 thoughts on “A Meteor Hits the Moon During the Eclipse”

  1. John Walker:
    The people who saw it were the first humans ever to witness such an event.  I’ve observed another such event, and it’s something I’ll long remember.

    There are two ways to interpret this passage.

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  2. Trumps fault. CNN believes this meteor hitting the moon will be considered a high crime therefore …

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  3. ctlaw:

    John Walker:
    The people who saw it were the first humans ever to witness such an event.  I’ve observed another such event, and it’s something I’ll long remember.

    There are two ways to interpret this passage.

    OK, what do you think are the two ways, CT?

    Personally, I have seen a meteor event, at a pretty young age, and I’ll remember it for a long, long time.

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  4. Gerry D:

    ctlaw:

    John Walker:
    The people who saw it were the first humans ever to witness such an event.  I’ve observed another such event, and it’s something I’ll long remember.

    There are two ways to interpret this passage.

    OK, what do you think are the two ways, CT?

    Personally, I have seen a meteor event, at a pretty young age, and I’ll remember it for a long, long time.

    Focus on the words “humans” and “such” and get ready to call Project Bluebook.

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  5. Gerry D:
    OK, what do you think are the two ways, CT

    I revised that passage to make it less ambiguous.  As originally written, it might have implied what I saw was a meteor, but what I was referring to was seeing an airplane fly in front of the Sun’s disc during a transit of Venus.  I was certain no human had ever seen that before because the previous transit of Venus was in 1882, before the airplane was invented.

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  6. John Walker:

    Gerry D:
    OK, what do you think are the two ways, CT

    As originally written, it might have implied what I saw was a meteor,

    In which case the implication was that you are not a human, which implication you have not denied.

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  7. ctlaw:

    John Walker:

    Gerry D:
    OK, what do you think are the two ways, CT

    As originally written, it might have implied what I saw was a meteor,

    In which case the implication was that you are not a human, which implication you have not denied.

    John, do you really want to get in an argument with a lawyer?

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