My last meteor watch post sucked because the web cam I linked to only lets you watch for a minute before asking for $29.95. Hoping to rectify the situation in time – a link to Marshall Space Flight Center…
Unlike earth, the moon has no atmosphere to protect it from space junk. On May 17 a boulder sized piece of that space junk slammed into the surface of the moon at almost 60,000 mph. Had you been looking at the moon when it happened, you would have seen the flash without a telescope. The impact was equal to the power of 5 tons of TNT. All from a boulder not much larger than a beach ball.
Since 2005 NASA has been monitoring “lunar impacts”, and report this one is by far the largest and brightest they’ve seen. They estimate the crater to be 20 meters across.
Forget the “light of the silvery moon” bring on a glowing shower of fireballs. Between November 5 – 12 our planet passes through debris from Comet Encke, its known as the Taurid Meteor Shower. For those who trouble themselves with statistics, the Taurids may only average 8 meteors per hour. Not much of a show compared to the Perseids. Don’t despair; Taurid brings fireballs.
One characteristic of Taurid is the space baggage it packs. Marble sized debris travels at a sluggish 27 km/second, allowing it to penetrate more of our atmosphere before burning up. Most cosmic debris enters our atmosphere at considerably higher speeds, fizzling out a lot faster. Taurid’s slow moving space junk may have be tiny when entering our atmosphere; many a good fireball comes in small packages.