Watch Meteor Crash into the Super Blood Moon During the Total Lunar Eclipse

During Sunday's super blood moon, a meteor crashed into the lunar surface—and astronomers recorded the whole thing.

Footage of the impact shows the meteor hitting the Moon during the total lunar eclipse—a relatively rare celestial event where Earth sits directly between the Sun and the Moon. This alignment causes light from the Sun to be refracted, making the Moon appear to be a reddish color. Sunday's full moon was also a "supermoon"—the name given when its orbit is at its closest point to Earth, or perigee.

Read more: "Beautiful rare treat" of a super blood wolf moon—physicist explains Sunday's total lunar eclipse

Jose Maria Madiedo, an astronomer working on the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) project, shared a YouTube video of the event, saying the images "correspond to a lunar impact flash spotted by the telescopes operating in the framework of the MIDAS survey on [January] 21."

The event took place at 11:41 p.m. ET, with the impact happening "during the totality phase of the lunar eclipse," Madiedo wrote. "The flash was produced by a rock (a meteoroid) that hit the lunar ground."

Madiedo and his team have been hoping to capture a lunar impact for some time, but normally the brightness of the Moon makes it very difficult. During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon appears about ten thousand times dimmer than usual, so seeing the bright flash of the impact is much easier.

"I had a feeling, this time will be the time it will happen," he told New Scientist. "I was really, really happy when [it did]."

According to Gizmodo, astronomers first started monitoring lunar impacts in 1997. This project went on to become the MIDAS survey, which is run by Spain's University of Huelva and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucia. The telescopes used by MIDAS have high-sensitivity video cameras that are used to continuously record events during observations.

"We monitor the nocturnal region of the Moon to identify impact flashes," he told the website. "In this way, these flashes are well contrasted against the darker background. So, we usually monitor the Moon about five days after the New Moon, and around five days before the New Moon. We also monitor during lunar eclipses, since during these eclipses the lunar ground is dark."

After analyzing the recordings from the total lunar eclipse, the team realized they had filmed a meteor hitting the surface of the Moon. "In total I spent almost two days without sleeping, including the monitoring time during the eclipse," Madiedo told Gizmodo. "But I made the extra effort to prepare the new telescopes because I had the feeling that this time would be 'the time,' and I did not want to miss an impact flash.

"I was exhausted when the eclipse ended—but when the automatic detection software notified me of a bright flash, I jumped out of my chair. It was a very exciting moment because I knew such a thing had never been recorded before."

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Gaston De Cardenas/AFP
Watch Meteor Crash into the Super Blood Moon During the Total Lunar Eclipse | Tech & Science