Scientists confirm that a space rock hit the Moon during the lunar eclipse


Enlarge / The flash from the impact of a meteoroid on the eclipsed Moon in early 2019, seen as the dot at top left. (credit: J. M. Madiedo / MIDAS)

On January 19, 2019, a lunar eclipse dazzled observers throughout the Americas (and a sliver of Africa and Europe). After the event, some who had watched it reported seeing a very brief flash.

Two days later as buzz began to build about the eclipse, University of Oxford astronomer Chris Lintott tweeted, “If you have footage of the lunar eclipse at 4.41 GMT check your image carefully…There might have been an impact during the eclipse!” Soon, high-quality still images of the impact began to emerge. Later, some video did as well.

Now, four Spanish scientists have published a detailed analysis of the impact in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that estimates the size of the object, its origin, and the impact it left on the lunar surface. They based their estimates on observations made by five f/10 Schmidt–Cassegrain telescopes in Seville, Spain. Clear weather afforded the telescope an uninterrupted view of the eclipse during the event’s totality.

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