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Lunar asteroid impact caught on video

A roughly 450-kilogram meteoroid struck the surface of the moon near Mare Nubium on September 11, creating the brightest, longest lunar flash ever recorded. Cameras caught the flash of the initial event (top, left), which lasted a fraction of a second, and tracked the dimming of ejected molten material that glowed for a bit longer.

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Guest post by Christopher Crockett

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On September 11, a dishwasher-sized meteoroid slammed into the nearside of the moon, exploding with the equivalent of 16 tons of TNT — and a lucky team of Spanish astronomers caught it on video.

The eight-second flash could be seen with the naked eye, making it the brightest and longest lunar impact ever recorded. While the resulting 50-meter-wide crater is too small to see with Earth-based telescopes, lunar orbiters are close enough to get a good look.

Observations like these, published February 23 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, help astronomers better understand impact hazards, which means watching the moon may help keep us safe on Earth.


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