Boom! Japanese astronomer captures meteorite impact on moon (video)

A Japanese astronomer captured the telltale flash of a meteorite crashing into the Moon, causing a brief flash on the night side of our celestial neighbor.

Daichi Fujii, curator of the Hiratsuka City Museum, recorded the event with cameras set to monitor the moon.

The outbreak time was 20:14:30.8 JST (7:14 EST or 11:14 GMT) on February 2. 23. The meteorite appears to have landed near Ideler L crater, slightly northwest of Pitiscus crater, Fujii said.

Related: What are asteroids?

Japanese astronomer Daichi Fujii took this picture of a meteorite impact on the Moon (bright flash at bottom left) on February 19th. 23, 2023.

Japanese astronomer Daichi Fuji took this picture of a meteorite impacting the Moon (bright flash at bottom left) on February 21st. 23, 2023. (Image credit: Daichi Fujii (Hiratsuka City Museum))

Meteors travel at an average speed of about 30,000 miles per hour (48,280 km/h) or 8.3 miles per second (13.4 km/s). Their high-speed impacts generate intense heat and create craters, as well as emitting a bright flash of visible light. Moon impacts can be seen from Earth, as shown above, if they are large enough and occur in an area during the moon’s night facing Earth.

The newly formed crater could be about a dozen meters (39 feet) in diameter and could eventually be captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar probe, Fujii said.

To learn more

Although meteors collide with Earth every day, the vast majority of them burn up completely on contact with the atmosphere. The moon, however, only has a very thin exosphere, meaning that meteors that don’t reach the Earth’s surface usually collide with the moon, giving it a cratered appearance. These rocks constantly strike the lunar surface, sometimes breaking it into small particles or lunar soil.

Recording these events also has scientific value, helping scientists learn the speed of impacts on the lunar surface, which is most relevant for the US and other countries preparing to send astronauts to the moon.

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