On Sept. 11, 2013, Spanish telescopes recorded a massive meteorite crashing into the moon, creating the longest and brightest lunar flash ever seen, researchers reported Sunday in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The energy released by the impact is comparable to a little over 15 tons of TNT (three times higher than the largest previous confirmed impact) and the bright flash that resulted lasted more than 8 seconds, according to the study. The explosion was so bright that it would have been visible to people on Earth.
“At that moment I realised that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event,” Jose Madiedo of University of Huelva, said in a statement.
Researchers believe the space rock weighed roughly 880 pounds — comparable to the mass of a small car — and was travelling at a blistering speed of 38,000 miles per hour when it smashed into the moon. Last March NASA caught the previous record-holding moon explosion, but that meteor only weighed 88 pounds.
Below is video footage from the record-breaking blast. The bright white flash shows the impact.
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