On Monday morning, when people were witnessing the spectacular super wolf moon eclipse, a brilliant coincidence led to something even more stunning celestial event. Videos of the lunar eclipse revealed that a meteor collided with the moon just when totality began, marking the end of a meteorite's journey. The combination of supermoon and lunar eclipse is a rare event, but what most viewers didn’t know was the fact that a third astronomical event was also taking place that morning. A video taken by the Griffith Observatory showed a small white flash as the meteor hits the lunar surface. The meteor strike takes place in the region darkened by Earth's shadow, as seen in the video.
The video was taken by the Griffith Observatory, and shows a small white flash as the meteor hits the lunar surface. Speaking to IFLScience, Dr Jose Maria Madiedo, from the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS), said: “I can confirm that the flash was produced by a meteoroid that hit the lunar ground. The event was recorded by several of our telescopes in the framework of MIDAS.”
Meteor striking a moon’s surface is nothing new, however, scientists are sometimes lucky enough to have instruments in the right place at the right time to catch the flash of light accompanying the high-speed impact. Meteorite impacts aren't just flashy, there's also real scientific knowledge to be learned from them. NASA has a team dedicated to monitoring these flashes because they can teach us about the debris cluttering our solar system, as reported by Space.com.
To everyone who watched the blood moon the other night: We all witnessed a meteor hitting the moon & didn’t even realize it. pic.twitter.com/1gcMTqdMGv— Michelle (@bbyhoneyhaz) January 23, 2019
“It's a rare alignment of infrequent events,” says Justin Cowart, a PhD candidate at Stony Brook University in New York. “A [meteoroid] about this size hits the moon about once a week or so,” he says as quoted by the National Geographic. But if this event is confirmed, it may be the first time such an impact has been recorded during a lunar eclipse.
A Reddit viewer spotted the potential impact during the eclipse and reached out to the r/space community to see if others could weigh in. The news spread quickly on social media, as people from across the path of totality posted their images and video of this tiny flicker of light.