- (Photo: Reuters)
A recent moon explosion was so bright it could be seen from the Earth without the aid of a telescope.
The incident, occurring March 17, was caused by a boulder-sized meteoroid slamming into the lunar surface and creating a crater.
"It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we've ever seen before," Bill Cooke, of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told CNN.
Scientists began monitoring the moon eight years ago to witness exactly what they saw- explosions on the surface. It is their hopes that in studying these meteoroids, they can find space debris that could hit the Earth.
This latest explosion was roughly 88 pounds and around a foot wide traveling at speeds of approximately 56,000 mph, according to Wired.com. The impact glow was equivalent to a 4th-magnitude star or five tons of TNT and is believed to be 65 feet wide.
"It jumped right out at me, it was so bright," said Ron Suggs of the Marshall Space Flight Center. "We'll be keeping an eye out for signs of a repeat performance next year when the Earth-moon system passes through the same region of space."
NASA reports the Earth was hit by many smaller meteoroids at the same time, but the atmosphere burned them up.
"On the night of March 17, NASA and University of Western Ontario all-sky cameras picked up an unusual number of deep-penetrating meteors right here on Earth," Cooke said, says FOX. "These fireballs were traveling along nearly identical orbits between Earth and the asteroid belt."
The moon has no atmosphere to protect it and is hit by hundreds of space objects a year.
The glow was caused by the molten rock at the site and not by an actual explosion, which cannot occur without oxygen, NASA says.