A meteor crashed into the Moon during the lunar eclipse!

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Hopefully you got a chance to experience the total lunar eclipse over the weekend, and possibly even joined us here at LSC for our Lunar Mania celebration!

But did you know the eclipse wasn't the only thing happening to the Moon that night? During the eclipse, many people around the world spotted a tiny flash of light in photographs. Was this flash just a trick of the eye? Were the images capturing a random pixel? No! This flash of light was a meteor crashing into the Moon!

The white dot on the left side of the Moon is where the meteor strike occurred. (Photo Credit: Christian Fröschlin)

The Moon gets hit all the time by space rocks and debris (on average at least 140 times a year), but this may be the first time such an event has been seen on photo during a lunar eclipse.

“I have not heard of anyone seeing an impact like this during a lunar eclipse before,” Sara Russell, a professor of planetary sciences at the Natural History Museum in London, said in an interview with The New York Times.

Every impact and every crater on the Moon has something to teach us. Studying the craters formed by debris hitting the Moon can tell us more about what is floating around our solar system.

Normally, a full moon is a difficult time to watch for meteor impacts because the surface of the moon is much brighter than the flash of light produced. Thanks to the eclipse, though, the flash was much easier to spot (but still very small). So far, it has been estimated this meteor was around the size of a football and created a crater around 25-30 feet in diameter.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter can help study the crater more in-depth if it passes over the right area of the Moon, sending clear pictures back to the team on Earth to analyze.

Interested in more space stories like this one? Join us this weekend in the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere! Breaking news space stories are always featured in our all-live show, "Wonders of the Night Sky." Click here to see a full list of shows that are currently playing and get showtimes.

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