A high-speed meteor impact on the surface of the moon on September 11th, last year triggered the brightest lunar explosion ever seen, scientists say.
Video of the impact shows a long flash that was almost as bright as Polaris. The meteorite’s lunar crash could be visible to anyone on Earth who happened to be staring up at the moon at 8:07 p.m. GMT.
Jose Madiedo, a professor at the University of Huelva, witnessed the collision using two moon-watching telescopes in the south of Spain that are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, or MIDAS observatory.
The meteor’s speed of around 37,900 mph (61,000 km/h) created a new crater nearly 131 feet (40 meters) wide in Mare Nubium. The meteor was about 880 lbs. (400 kg) and measured between 2 and 4.5 feet (0.6 and 1.4 meters) in diameter scientists estimate.
Luckily, a rock that size should only make a great bolide, but, depending on its composition, would normally not pose a threat because it would burn up in the atmosphere. Since the moon doesn’t have any atmosphere, meteors hit it all the time leaving us traces of the past.
Personal note: I disagree with a lot of article that are calling this a meteorite. In order to be a meteorite, some of the meteor has to survive the impact, leaving pieces of itself behind. No one know if anything survived this impact, so it would be presumptuous to call it a meteorite until all the facts are in. Just the lawyer in me coming out a bit.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +