Lunar Meteoritic Impact Search
of Chemistry and Physics
View A&M University
P.O. Box 519, MS 2230
View, Texas 77446
This program is designed to standardize and
coordinate amateur observations of meteoroid impacts on the Moon. This field
has exciting possibilities but only if the observations are done in a uniform
manner and pooled to look for confirmations of positive observations. Anyone
interested in participating should contact the Coordinator above for further
information. The Coordinator maintains an "Impact"
e-mailing list of regular participants, e-mail him if you would like
to be added to the list. Click here to read the full mission statement.
What's New (10/02/2014)?
Briefings and Upcoming Opportunities
Observations for the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer
Recent News and Developments (2011-2013)
Jovian Meteor and
Lunar Impact Plots
(1999-2006) by Peter Gural
Links to Lunar Impact
Check this out for the latest images
and news on Lunar Meteor Observations!
Briefings and Upcoming Opportunities to Observe Lunar Meteors
The new lunar phase cycle has begun, with New Moon on
September 24. The evening part of the monthly campaign runs from September
27 through October 3 with First Quarter on October
1. During this time only the southern Taurid
stream is active, producing a ZHR of a few per hour during the evening
campaign. The second half of this month’s campaign runs from October
14 to 20, with last quarter on October
16. Several minor meteor streams are active during this time,
to include the Orionids, which peak on October 21.
The Orionids have a broad, week-long peak so the last
few days of the morning campaign will find the moon favored for Orionid impacts.
Another total lunar eclipse is just days away (October
8) and observations are requested for the time interval when
the moon is in deepest eclipse. One can start monitoring the eclipsed part of
the moon (the celestial eastern part) as early as 9:50 UT and continue for as
long as the moon is high enough to monitor (it sets during totality on the U.S.
and Canadian East Coast). Totality runs from 10:25 UT to 11:24 UT; but one can
continue to monitor the moon for meteoroid impact flashes, this time for the celestial
west part of the moon, until 12:05 UT, provided the moon is high enough to
observe (the western half of the U.S., most of Canada, and all of Alaska get to
see the entire eclipse.
Although the LADEE mission is now history (it crash-landed
on the far side of the moon on April 17), observations of lunar meteors are
still needed. Anyone interested in making observations at any time during these
intervals should contact me at the above e-mail address to inform me of your
attempts and/or post on the lunar-impact list server. If you need assistance
with your tapes do not hesitate to let one of us know, either myself or someone
on the lunar-impacts list server group. The complete observing
plan for lunar meteors for 2014 can be obtained here.
The mirror site that complements this site is
online and will display images obtained by observers as soon as they are
received, to give near-real time updates of observers’ results. Also included
will be any information provided by the observer such as date, time, location,
etc. The mirror is part of the “Cosmic Corner” website athttp://www.pvamu.edu/physics/cosmic-corner/.
Call for Observations in
Support of the LADEE Mission
As already mentioned, LADEE ended on April 17,
but there is still need for observations during the time frame of the mission
(November 28, 2013 through April 16, 2014) so if you were observing during this
time and have something to contribute, you are more than welcome to send it my
Brian Day of NASA-Ames Research Center wrote:
“The Lunar Meteoroid Impacts and the LADEE mission online workshop was held on
Dec 5, 2013. Presenters included RickElphic (LADEE Project Scientist), Brian Cudnik (Coordinator of the ALPO Lunar
Meteoritic Impact Search, Author of “Lunar Meteoroid Impacts and How to Observe
Them), Rob Suggs (NASA Meteoroid Environment Office),
George Varros (pioneering observer of lunar
meteoroid impacts and author of “Nudger” lunar
auto-guider software), and PeterGural (author of LunarScan impact detection software). Because of
our international audience, the workshop was recorded and archived for
convenient viewing. You can view the workshop at http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/p4zpsnm6weh/.”
I highly recommend visiting this site and watching
the entire conference. Even though the mission has ended, there are plenty of
resources to help one get oriented to the observations of lunar meteors. More
information about the LADEE mission itself can be obtained from http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LADEE/main/.
One of the main objectives for ground-based
observations is to correlate the occurrence of impact events with changes in
the dust concentration as measured by LADEE. This, combined with careful
measurements of the maximum intensity of the flash, its light curve, and
knowing the impact velocity of the meteoroid, will enable us to get an estimate
of the luminous efficiency (how much impact energy goes into making the optical
flash) of the impact as well as a rough estimate of the mass of the meteoroid.
Recent News and Developments
Brightest Lunar Meteor Yet
of the University of Huelva in Spain reported a bright meteor flash caused by a
space rock impacting the Moon’s surface at an estimated 37,900 mph (61,000
km/h), blasting out a new crater roughly 131 feet (40 meters) wide. This impact
was observed by a pair of telescopes that are part of the MIDAS (Moon Impacts
Detection and Analysis System) observatory, at 8:07UT on September 11, 2013.
The event occurred in Mare Nubium. The meteoroid
weighed in at an estimated 880 lbs. (400 kg) and measured between 2.0 and 4.5
feet (0.6 and 1.4 meters) in diameter. More information about this event can be
found at http://www.space.com/24789-moon-meteorite-impact-brightest-lunar-explosion.html.
Some Recent Observations of
Lunar Meteor Phenomena
at the start of each observing cycle, add reports from the prior cycle to this
website. I eventually plan to compile the below into a table of impact events,
in catalog format, and add this to the growing catalog of lunar meteoroid
observations. Images can be viewed at the mirror site linked above.
IMPACT EVENT FROM FEBRUARY 2014
Bill Porter reported a
recording of a possible impact candidate from about 12:30 UTC on Feb 23.
Location was in the eastern half of Lacus Somniorum,
in the general area of Hall Y1 dome and Hall K crater. George Varros reports: “Using the Virtual
Moon Atlas, the coordinates are close to LONG 36.724 LAT 34.105 - in the
vicinity of the Hall crater.” (An image will be posted to the CosmicCorner mirror site sometime this week,
or before March 6th). The impact appeared quite faint according to
Mr. Porter, who observed this from California, USA. A comparison star was
videotaped a few minutes later ( HIP 82951A, mag
6.55). The “jury is out” on this one since it shows a gradual rise in
brightness, a peak, then a gradual fall, which is not consistent with a typical
IMPACT EVENT FROM DECEMBER 2013 and JANUARY 2014
Two candidates from Jan 5:
I don’t know what to make of them. They are both single video field events and
are dim but don’t look like cosmic rays because of their nice shape and
brightness centroids. They have a similar look, are dim and very short, just
like the one from Jan 4. (I’m rescanning
everything using Lunarscan 1.5 after experiencing
anomalies or unexpected results.)
Jan 5, 2014 00:12:26 Lat
15.321S Lon 25.489E inside crater Cyrillus F
Jan 5, 2014 00:31:35 Lat
15.5N Lon 20.6E
[Images courtesy of George
This is a
detection by Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti of a probable impact event on the moon. These are
members of the Swiss-Italian team of lunar observers.
Date: 2014 Jan 7
UT Time: 18:19:31.0
Lunar coordinates: 15.5°
West, 19.5° North (Mare Imbrium)
Duration: 20 ms
Presence of artificial
satellites along the line-of-view: none in a 3deg diameter
Iten’s instrument: 125mm
refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate
Sposetti’s instrument: 280mm
reflector with WAT902H2 Ultimate
courtesy of (left) M. Iten and (right) S. Sposetti.
Lunar meteor observer
George Varros reports the following impact candidate:
I found a single video
field event that may or may not be an impact. It occurred on Jan 4, 2014, at
23:49:37 UT, just south of Gambart B at Lat 0.979 Long
-11.56 I uploaded and posted an image
and a map, in a new folder labeled “01/04/2014 candidate”.
Although it’s only one
video field, the event does not have the visual appearance of a cosmic ray in
that it has a brighter center and is in a matrix of 3×3 pixels – it looks
It was not detected by Lunarscan probably because the event is only seen in the
even video field – the odd field was blank along with the odd field of the next
frame. The picture is dark because I probably have my gain set too low.
received the following reports (December 7th and 8th)
from the Swiss-Italian Lunar Observation group. Within a day (or two or less)
of the date of this notice, images related to this report will be made
available on the mirror site. Stefano SposettiI reported the following:
Dec 7, Marco Iten, Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna
and I, made some video recordings of the crescent Moon. We got good, but also
poor sky conditions. 2 of us, Marco Iten
and I, detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon.
The image of Marco Iten shows a very nice bright
point of light, lasting about 4 fields (ie. 80 ms).
My image is a lot blurred because of wind and strong turbulence, the flash is
washed out but clearly visible at the same instant and in the same lunar region.
The airmass at the moment of the detection was 3.9.
No artificial satellites were along the line-of sight inside a 3deg diameter
centered on the Moon coordinates. We performed no photometry of the flash. To note that Marco Iten noticed the flash
visually in real time, while looking at the laptop screen.
2013 Dec 7
coordinates: 11° West, 14° South (Mare Nubium)
125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate
Sposetti's instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate
Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna and I made some video
recordings of the crescent Moon in the first half of December 2013.
“December 8th, 2 of us,
Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti,
detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon. The image
of Marco Iten shows a somewhat bright point of light,
lasting about 2 fields (ie. 40 ms). The flash of
light in the Sposetti's image is less evident.
at the moment of the detection was 2.19.
satellite INTELSAT 907 was at 66arcmin from the Moon centre at the moment of
the detection, ie. outside
the field of view. No other satellites were in a 3degree diameter circle
centered on the Moon coordinates.
“We performed no
photometry of the flash.
2013 Dec 8
coordinates: 18° West, 50° South (Longomontanus
instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate
Sposetti's instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate”
addition to these reports, the NASA-MSFC Meteoroid Environment Office reported,
during the “Workshop Without Walls” web-based meeting
last week of a faint impact candidate on the western (Celestial west) limb of
the moon, imaged at 11:07:24.3
on 29 November 2013.
Someone else in e-mail communication mentioned this as being one of three
candidates observed that morning. I do not have an image to go with this report
but one can see it on the online workshop.
Small Meteoroid Impact
Observed in Europe on 1 August 2013
I received the following
report from Raffaello Lena of GLR-Italy. He writes:
“On August 1, 2013 at 02:21:55.7 UT, a small meteoroid has likely impacted the Moon' s surface. The kinetic energy transformed by the
impact into thermal energy also caused a short a flash of light that was
detected by telescopes of R. Lena, A. Manna and S. Sposetti.
The simultaneity of the flash and the same position on the lunar surface
indicates it is an impact. The event described above has been observed by Raffaello Lena (GLR group, Rome Italy) with a refractor 130
mm and with a video camera Mintron. The flash was
also detected by Andrea Manna from Cugnasco (Switzerlnd) with a Schmidt Cassegrain 200 mm and a camera watec 120N+. Stefano Sposetti (Gnosca, Switzerland) detected the flash using two
telescopes: Refractor 150 mm and SC C11” equipped with watec
Two observatories in
Switzerland are at a distance of 10.0 km. The observatory in Italy (Rome) is at
a very long distance of 558 km from Gnosca
(Switzerland). Time synchronicity of the various files is assured by using a
GPS time inserters (KIWI-OSD) and an Atomic Clock Synchronization protocol. The
meteoroidal lunar impact detected on August, 1, 2013 at 02:21:55.7 UT was
simultaneously recorded by four independent video recordings. The duration of
the flash correspond to 0.08s and reached a peak brightness of 8.3 ± 0.7 mag.
The selenographic coordinates of the lunar impact
flash are determined to 73° ± 4° E and 27° ± 3° N, near the crater Seneca C.
The examined impact flash probably corresponds to a α-Capricornids shower exhibiting favourable
impact geometry on the impact date. Enclosed an image of the
detected lunar impact. A report of the observing session (written by Sposetti, Manna and I) is published in Selenology Today 33,
which can be accessed with the following link:
Largest Meteoroid Impact Yet
Observed on the Moon, March 17, 2013
has observed the largest impact yet detected on the moon. At 3:50:55UT on
March 17, 2013, a flash peaking near magnitude 4.0 was observed at lunar
latitude 20.6N, longitude 23.8W. The explosion produced was the equivalent of
that produced by 5 tons of TNT. The crater generated by this explosion is
estimated to be approximately 20 feet (6 meters) in diameter and was produced
by a beach-ball sized meteoroid (about 35-cm diameter) impacting at 57,000
mph (26 km/sec), that possibly is part of a little known meteor shower called
the eta Virginids. More information about this
extraordinary event can be obtained at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/16may_lunarimpact/.
General Astronomy Free e-Book
Available for Download
general interest visual astronomy book (revised and corrected) entitled “The Art and Science of Visual
Astronomy”, is available for free
download. This is where I share my fascination with the aesthetic, visual side
of astronomy and include information on some of the best objects that amateur
astronomers look at on a regular basis. This is meant to instill interest in
visual astronomy as well as keep beginning astronomers hooked and interested in
observing. I cover a wide range, from the natural beauty of the Earth and
daytime sky, to the uniqueness of deep sky objects such as galaxies. A unique
feature of this free e-book are the tables of “equivalent distances” to objects
of various types (both within the local solar system and beyond), that is how
close one would be to a given object of interest to get a naked eye view that
matches what one sees through the eyepiece. Suggestions are always welcome for
improvement. The e-book can be downloaded from here. Please be aware that, because of all the pretty pictures,
it may take a few minutes to download completely. Once it is downloaded, you
can save a copy to your local machine.
A Likely Impact from a
Sporadic Meteoroid (2011)
The GLR (Geologic-Lunar Research) group in Italy reported a very likely
lunar meteoroid impact candidate on 11 February 2011 at 20:36:58.355UT. The obsevers were Stefano Sposetti
and March Iten. Stefano Sposetti
reports, “Marco Iten and me detected a probable
impact flash on the Moon, simultaneously, from our two observatories, located
16km apart. It lasted about 4 fields (i.e. 0.08s) in one video file; a bit less
in the other video file. No artificial satellites were in a 2-deg field of view
at the moment of the detection and the two flashes in the two video files are
located at the same lunar feature.” Since impact was observed with two
telescopes separated by 16km (below the arbitrary 30km threshold that we use to
determine uniqueness) and it has been verified that no artificial satellites
were in the vicinity of the moon at the time of the impact, this can be
considered a confirmed event. More information, including analysis, can be
found at this website http://digidownload.libero.it/glrgroup/st22web.htm.
Meteors and Resources for Observers
Jovian Meteor #3
10, 2012, a Jovian meteor was observed by a visual observer in Minnesota and
confirmed by video in Texas. It was a two-second long, sixth magnitude meteor
that happened in Jupiter’s atmosphere. It is likely that the object mostly
burnt up in the atmosphere, as observations of the site on subsequent rotations
have yielded no markings. This event serves as a reminder that Jupiter provides
a potential wealth of information in the area of meteoritics
and the interactions between colliding planetary bodies. The story can be read
at http://www.spaceweather.com/ (Select
September 12 2012 under “Archives” if you do not see a link to the story
anymore). A real-time video of the impact event can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/19299984@N08/7976507568. And check out the article published just one day before
that declares “Fireballs Light Up Jupiter” at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/09sep_jovianfireballs/.
Jovian Meteor #1, and #2
Jovian meteor was videotaped as it happened at 18:22UT on 20 August 2010. The
event was recorded independently by two observers in Japan: Masayuki Tachikawa
of Kumamoto city was first to report the event, and Tokyo amateur astronomer
Aoki Kazuo made the confirming recording some 800 km away. More information on
this event, including pictures and video, can be seen on the August 23, 2010
page of www.spaceweather.com. Sky & Telescope also has a story on this which can be
read at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/101264994.html.
makes the second confirmed meteor observation on Jupiter in 2-1/2 months, with
the first being on June 3rd. The June 3 and 4 (2010) page of www.spaceweather.com has more information, including an image and a video of this
extraterrestrial meteor, which occurred at 20:31 UT on June 3rd. You
can also go to the news section of Astronomy Magazine’s website (http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=ss&id=26, scroll to the archives near the bottom of the page, select June
2010 and look for the link…) to get the news story. Amateur astronomers
Christopher Go (the Philippines)
and Anthony Wesley (Australia)
simultaneously observed this event, making it the first ground-based confirmed
observation of an actual impact event on another world beside the moon (to my
knowledge). The impactor must have been a rather
large object to have produced such a bright flash of light as seen from a half
billion miles away.
meteor did not produce any dark markings, and it is unlikely that this one will
do so as well. Both appear to be atmospheric fireballs that disintegrated
before reaching the clouds.
reinforces my suggestion (which is now being considered by others) to begin a
serious project of continuously monitoring of Jupiter for impact events. This
would need to be done at high powers, enough for 1 arc-second (or better)
resolution. A setup similar to what is used in lunar meteor or asteroid
occultation work, but with larger telescopes (at least 10-inch) and less
sensitive cameras (since Jupiter is bright) would do the trick, and could
reveal the true rate of such impacts with implications for Earth and the impact
Observer Resource: Lunar Meteoroid Impacts and How to Observe
is now available for purchase at bookstores as well as online. One can go to Springer’s
website and find more information about the book, at http://www.springer.com/astronomy/book/978-1-4419-0323-5. One can also go to Amazon.com and get it for as little as $17.56
(used) off the publisher price; the website is (it looks truncated so if this
link does not work, simply go to www. amazon.com and type in the title of the
book in the search field, and it will come up)…
1.5 by Peter Gural now Available!
The latest version of the
automated detection software is ready for download. Go to http://www.lunarimpacts.com/lunarscan15.zip to download a copy.
This version is usable for formats up to 720x576 (PAL). The software is free
under the condition that you provide impact flash observations
(date/time/location) to NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the e-mail
address listed under "Contact Us" at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/lunar/index.html.
A “Quick Start” guide to LunarScan can be obtained by clicking here or here.
to Describe Quality of Lunar Meteor Observations
In order to better qualify the probability of an observation being
genuinely impact in nature, we have adopted a definitive classification
scheme. The descriptors are given below
Those impacts observed by at least two independent observers separated by
at least 50 km (30 mi) within 2 degrees of latitude and longitude on the
moon and 2 seconds of time (99% confidence).
Confirmed Observation: Those impacts observed by at least two independent
observers separated by less than 50 km (30 mi) within 5 degrees of
longitude and 5 seconds of time (95% confidence).
- Probable: Those impacts
observed by a single observer having the characteristics of an impact
observation--appearing on two or more video frames, a measurable
point-spread-function (i.e. appearing similar to a star), and/or
confidence at least 80%.
- Candidate: Any impact
observation submitted by a single observer with a confidence of at least
With these criteria in place, we
can better group observations in terms of quality and estimate the likelihood
of the observation being that of an actual impact event. It is very
possible that a candidate could be elevated to the status of
"confirmed" with the corroborative observation of a second
independent observer, as stated in the qualifications above.
Lunar Impact Plots
Included are the plots made for
meteor showers with ZHR's greater than 10 that occur when the Moon is favorably
placed for the observation of impact flashes from Earth. In addition to
the plots for 2005 and 2006, plots for 1999 to 2004 are also included for
archival purposes. Click on the following link for impact plots showing
when the Moon will be favorably placed to observe possible lunar meteor impacts
on its surface from annual meteor showers. Only when at least some of the
dark side of the Moon is presented to the Earth, and the terrestrial ZHR of the
shower exceeds 15, is the plot for that particular shower (terrestrial) maximum
provided. Many thanks to Peter Gural
of Science Applications International Corporation for providing these impact
plots. Also note that the LunarScan program is
capable of producing lunar impact plots for any shower and any lunar phase;
interested parties are encouraged to refer to the documentation that goes with
the program for more information.
Lunar Impact Plots--Archives
Lunar Impact Plots--Current
2005-2061 for 7 major annual showers
Lunar Impact Information
About the Lunar Meteoritic Impact Search Program, Observing
Resources, Information, and Guidelines
How to Make
Lunar Meteor Observations and Related Resources
A.L.P.O. Lunar Meteoritic Impacts Search Report Form
A.L.P.O. LMIS-RF #2
Instructions and Tips on How to Fill out the Report Forms
ALPO meteor links
ALPO meteor section
Showers for 2010
Varros Lunar Meteor Home Page
NASA Lunar Meteor Impacts Monitoring
Spellman Lunar Meteor Home Page
General Information and Historical Observations
Worthy of Resurrection: Two past ALPO Lunar Projects
History of Lunar Impacts
Lunar Leonids 2001
Robert McNaught's predictions of
the Moon's Encounters with Dust Trails (1997-2006)
for Lunar Leonid Impacts
Lunar Leonids 2000
Click here to learn how people were watching for meteor
hits during the 2000 Leonid event
Lunar Leonids 1999
flashers...on the Moon (before the Storm)
Observing Leonids on the Moon (before the Storm)
A Leonid on the Moon? (First News of Possible Impact Sightings)
Nov.18th Lunar-Leonid Impacts