tech2 News StaffJan 23, 2019 17:35:40 IST
An astronomer in Spain was waiting patiently for over ten years to capture visuals of a meteorite hitting the moon.
After being patient for a decade, it finally happened, and during the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse on 21 January no less! A meteorite struck the moon and produced a flash of light when Madeido's camera was rolling.
When a coppery-red tint covered the moon's surface for an hour during the eclipse, some people spotted a tiny flash go off in broadcasts, New Scientist reported. Some of the observers shared their suspicions that the flash was actually a meteorite impact. Lo and behold, they were bang on.
Madiedo was one of the first to tweet about the find after capturing it on a camera.
La roca se desintegró durante el impacto, produciendo el destello que recogen las imágenes @AstroyFisica @PlanetarioMad @elpais_sociedad @EFEnoticias @abc_ciencia @miangulo_95 @CNNEE @elperiodico @LaVanguardia @UCC_UHU pic.twitter.com/99MSfOZIGk
— Jose Maria Madiedo (@jmmadiedo) January 22, 2019
Astronomers have captured impact flashes on the Moon in the past, but this is the first time an impact and lunar eclipse were captured at once. A system to monitor impact flashes was started in 1997, which eventually evolved to become the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS).
Today, MIDAS uses software to monitor and identify the exact second that a meteorite hits the darkened portions of the moon's surface. The program is run by the University of Huelva and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucia, of which Madiedo is a researcher.
After the eclipse, MIDAS's software automatically picked up the flash in one of the eight images that recorded visuals. This helps to confirm that the flashes seen by live stream-watchers were not just optical anomalies on camera sensors.
Madiedo estimated that the asteroid was roughly the size of a football, and will soon come out with a more comprehensive study of the impact. Meteorites hitting the moon so apparently to us are rare, even if impacts of a much smaller happen nearly every week. NASA has seismometers placed on the moon to pick up on these smaller impacts.
In 2013, a 400-kilogram meteorite struck the Moon and made a crater that was 130 feet wide – the largest impact ever recorded.
Another entry to add to the stunning animation released this week by the Southwest Research Institute of the biggest asteroid impacts on the moon over the past billion years. There were 111 of them in all, and each of the 111 recreated with animation and music.
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