Scientist captures stunning video of meteorite colliding with the moon

An astronomer has captured incredible footage of a speedy meteorite slamming into the surface of the moon from his home in Hiratsuka.

2 minutes & 19 seconds read time

A Japanese astronomer was monitoring the moon in late February and caught the moment a meteorite collided with the moon's surface.

The Japanese astronomer is named Daichi Fujii and posted the footage onto his personal Twitter account, where he explained that the event took place February 23, 2023, and that the footage was taken from his home in Hiratsuka, Japan. The impact is quite difficult to see, but watching the bottom right side of the moon, a bright flash will appear for just over a second and then disappear.

Notably, since the moon doesn't have an atmosphere, meteorites on track to collide with the surface are invisible to observers on Earth. Ground observers see meteorites entering Earth's atmosphere from the friction build-up that turns them into a bright fireball that sometimes eventuates into an explosion. This friction is caused by Earth's dense atmosphere and the extreme speed the meteorite is traveling. The moon doesn't have an atmosphere, which is why we don't see bright streaks regularly appearing across the surface of the moon.

Additionally, the moon is tidally locked to Earth, meaning we only see one side of it. So, if any meteorites collide with the dark side of the moon, Earth can't observe them. On a side note, while tidal locking may seem complex, a simple way to think about why only one side of the moon is shown to Earth is - the time it takes for the moon to rotate once is equal to the time it takes for the moon to orbit once around Earth. This phenomenon is called "synchronous tidal locking" and is actually very common throughout the galaxy, with many of the solar system's moons being tidally locked to their planets. i.e., Jupiter's Galilean moons.

Reports indicate that the meteorite that collided with the moon late last month was traveling approximately 30,000 miles per hour and is estimated to have created a crater on its surface measuring 39 feet in diameter.

While at face value, the video captured by Fujii may seem underwhelming, it's very useful to researchers that are studying the rate of objects colliding with the surface of the moon. Data, such as this video, will be added to the long list of discovered objects smacking into the surface of the moon, with the overall goal of determining an average rate of frequency and regions of most-likely collision. All of which will be used to inform NASA and other space agencies planning for the colonization of our closest neighbor.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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