Location, orbit and energy of a meteoroid impacting the moon during the Lunar Eclipse of January 21, 2019OPEN ACCESS 

Jorge I. Zuluaga [SEAP/IF/UdeA],Pablo A. Cuartas-Restrepo [SEAP/IF/UdeA],Jonathan Ospina [SCLUB/SAA],Fritz Pichardo [ASTRODOM],Sergio A. Lopez [SCLUB/SAA],Karls Pena [ASTRODOM],J. Mauricio Gaviria-Posada [Obs.LaLoma]

Submitted to Icarus

Update (12 December 2019): replaced and accepted for publication in MNRAS


“During the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019 at least two meteoroids impacted the moon producing visible flash lights on the near side. One of the impacts occurred on the darkest side of the visible lunar face and was witnessed by many casual observers. In this paper we present estimations of the location, impact parameters (velocity and incoming direction), orbit and energy of the meteoroid, as obtained from images and videos collected by amateur astronomers in Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Morocco. We use the novel Gravitational Ray Tracing (GRT) technique to estimate the orbital properties and radiant of the impactor. We find that that the meteoroid impacted the moon with a speed of $13.8^{+4.3}_{-7.3}$ km/s and in a relatively shallow angle, $\theta<35.6$ degrees. According to our photometric estimations, the impact released $10^7$ J of visible light in a short time (0.30 seconds). The total impact energy was $0.9-1.8$ tons of TNT which correspond to a body with a mass between 20-100 kg and a diameter of 30-50 cm. If our assumptions are correct, the crater left by the impact will have 7-15 meters across and it could be detectable by prospecting lunar probes. These results arose from a timely collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers which highlight the importance of citizen science in contemporary astronomy.”