Japanese astronomer managed to capture on video the precise moment when a meteorite crashes into the Moon, a phenomenon that, although recurrent, has rarely been immortalized on video.
The Moon is the living reflection that space is a wild place, with its hundreds of thousands of craters that give it the characteristic appearance to which we are accustomed. Over the eons, since the natural satellite was formed and trapped in the Earth’s gravitational field, the Moon has been the target of meteorite collisions of various sizes and origins.
That is a fact that is well-known thanks to the lunar craters; however, very few times do we have the opportunity to clearly observe the exact moment when a meteorite hits the lunar surface. But thanks to technology and the fact that every day more astronomers join the research of the heavens, we can now see the collision of a meteorite with the Moon.
Meteorite Collides with the Moon
Japanese astronomer Daichi Fujii, who is the curator of the Hiratsuka City Museum, keeps an eye on the heavens with cameras set up to monitor Earth’s natural satellite. In one of his observations, Fujii detected an unusual flash coming from a certain region of the Moon and soon realized that he had managed to record in real-time the collision of a meteorite with the lunar surface.
— 藤井大地 (@dfuji1) February 24, 2023
“I was able to capture the largest lunar impact flash in my observation history!” celebrates the Japanese astronomer on his official Twitter account. “This is an image of the lunar impact flash that appeared at 20:14:30.8 on February 23, 2023, taken from my home in Hiratsuka,” the tweet continues.
Fujii explains that it was a large flash, which you can see at the bottom right of his original video. The bright spot continues to flashlight for more than a second even though the video is recorded in real-time and without speed alteration. The astronomer estimates that the crater formed by this new collision could be about ten meters long. It is expected that it will later be photographed by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is currently flying over the satellite’s orbit.
Why Do Meteorites Collide with the Moon and Not the Earth?
The Earth is a complex planet from the depths of its core to its last layer of atmosphere. In fact, it is thanks to the latter that medium-sized meteors do not threaten our planet, since if one of these objects comes directly towards us, it would first have an interaction with the outer layers of the atmosphere where they dissolve thanks to friction with the gases.
But the history of the Moon is completely different since it completely lacks an atmosphere to protect it from encounters with space rocks. It is for this reason that our natural satellite is marked by thousands of circular reliefs that speak of a wild past and its encounters with different meteorites, as it moves with the Earth through space.
Story written in Spanish by Alejandra Martínez in Ecoosfera