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Seeing a rock hit the moon

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What are the chances of seeing an impact on the moon?

I see there was an impact in March 2013 visible to the naked eye.  Then an even bigger one later that year.  They might have created craters 20 and 40 meters across.  Did they know beforehand?  And could they tell us in future?  And what are the chances of one ten times bigger? 

I know you'd need luck.  The impact on the facing side of the moon.  A clear night.  It indeed being night at the time.  The moon being visible at all.

But would be great to see it.  Is there any chance in the next 15 years or am I asking the impossible?



Edited by Nigele2
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Rare and you would need some luck but not impossible:


Could they tell us beforehand ? - probably not in most cases.

Chances of something larger ? - similar to the risk for Earth I'd imagine:


We have our atmosphere to disrupt potential impactors though and the Moon doesn't.

Edited by John
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Maybe your best chance is setting up a camera every evening, filming the whole night. But when will you find the time to check the film the next day? Or you can just film a week in a row, before rewriting the files and then follow the news or NASA. If they report about an impact, you can start watching the film of that night.

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Transient Lunar Phenomena, or TLP's  are, or have taken place on the moon, and actually been seen by 
observers. Witnesses include some eminent scientists too, so no reason to doubt these events.
I guess a large body impact could possibly be observed if one with good fortune, had their scope looking at the area
struck. It would be an almighty coincidence though, but not impossible.
I observed  the the scars in Jupiter's atmosphere rotate into view the very night Shoemaker Levy Nine pieces had slammed into the planet.
They were huge of course, and easily seen.
Very exciting. I'm sure many others witnessed that event too.

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Tx all - food for thought.

Not really interested in cameras as while processing the video looking for the impact flash would be easy I'll leave that to others.  What I'm after is seeing it happen first hand - either by eye or telescope.

I guess unlikely in my life time but the monitors of large rocks on collision course with earth might find one in advance that is heading towards the moon.    And it is going to create a crater some 50 kilometers in diameter.  Now that would be some event. 


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Oh, OK then. <grin> But if your were interested in imaging them... 

I recall that sensitive VIDEO cameras (Watec etc.) are a possibility to record such stuff? 
These produce 800x600 pixels (1.3MB) at 25 frames per second, so you'd probably 
need "intelligence" (software) to buffer/filter events - Or store/search a LOT of data! :p

I have an idea that such things are done by Meteor observers... who (paradoxically) 
use "UFO detection software" to trigger on the appearance of "unusual" events??? ;)
Basically it holds a temporary buffer and *triggers* on change of brightness? It then
then knows something happened a short while back  and writes the buffer to disk! :)

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To actually see and witness a close by biggy would surely be desired by all here .. the Moon being "close by" ;)

The only down side is that for said events to still be ongoing and frequenct enough and big enough for us to experience first hand means we also have to be in the firing line :eek:

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The Moon has no atmosphere to absorb, or burn up any intruders, so even the smaller ones 
will be unscathed when they hit the surface. Most of the celestial bric a brac that invade earth are disintegrated when ploughing through our protective layer of atmosphere.
The large ones can landfall as Meteorites, some dangerous as history has shown us.
Tunguska in Siberia  for example was an air burst one which created severe damage in 1908 
 There are others that have apparently caused what is familiarly 
called a Nuclear Winter, which blocked the Sunlight for a very very long time, causing the demise of surface lifeforms during that period.
We wouldn't like it to happen again, but there are no guarantees on that.

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Transient Lunar Phenomena took up a lot of debating time and many of the episodes of the S@N in its early days. Patrick was much involved in the great impact vs. vulcanism crater controversy and TLPs were no less controversial, variously attributed to impacts, spontaneous combustion of effluent gasses and fanciful imaginations of the Lowell kind. This was in the days when the Mk1 eyeball was king.

So even if you dont catch a meteor impact in your life time you might see a flicker of gas escaping ? ( not sure where the needed oxygen was supposed to come from ?)

Setting up a weekly camera and then relying on a news report to review it  doesnt seem to be quite "cricket" somehow ! :laughing4:

Edited by SilverAstro
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I've seen a dark side flash many years ago as reported at the time in the BAA lunar section publication. I haven't been involved in what they are doing for a while so I don't know if they are still running that programme of observation.

Interesting to do though though I doubt any small flash would leave physical evidence to be seen. A bigger one maybe :)

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Remember the use of a Centaur Rocket stage that was deliberately crashed into the crate 100 Km. wide  Cabeus crater, in the lunar southern hemisphere?
The project was designed to try and detect water, believed to be locked into that frozen site .
The resultant plume ejected from the moon on impact, wasn't as High as expected, but did reach about 2Km above the surface, and did enable the detection of
large quantities of water. That plume was detected by earth based telescopes.
I did remember that event taking place, but I had to look for the details of it, as I thought it would give an insight into what might be an example of 
what has been proved possible regarding the visibility of certain lunar surface activity, either internal forces, or artificially induced ones.

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One way to increase your chances of observing a lunar impact flash could be by observing during one of the regular meteor showers. Although the position of the moon and lunar phase would need to be suitable. Plus you would need lots of patience and luck!

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2 hours ago, Phil Fargaze said:

One way to increase your chances of observing a lunar impact flash could be by observing during one of the regular meteor showers. Although the position of the moon and lunar phase would need to be suitable. Plus you would need lots of patience and luck!

With much emphasis on the latter :icon_biggrin:.

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