In case you missed the lunar eclipse on January 20 (January 21 for those in Europe and beyond), viewers were treated to an unexpected surprise: an impact! A brief flash on the shadowed portion of the Moon was observed by astronomers and the public alike. Astronomers have been systematically observing the Moon in shadow since 1997 courtesy of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) monitor, but this is the first time they have observed an impact flash during an eclipse. Fresh impact craters can be very useful for lunar scientists if they are large enough to form a new crater, providing insight into processes such as impact crater formation and space weathering. New impact events like this tell us that the Moon is still very much a dynamic place!
To see the full eclipse for yourself, check out the video recording by Griffith Observatory, Total Lunar Eclipse January 20, 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhmLlFyZ4Zw&t=13387
To learn more about eclipses, visit JPL’s Teachable Moments: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/2019/1/11/how-to-watch-the-only-total-lunar-eclipse-of-2019-plus-a-supermoon/
For more information on this particular impact flash, visit: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2191526-a-meteorite-hit-the-moon-during-yesterdays-total-lunar-eclipse/