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Photo of the lunar eclipse on Jan. 20 along with the meteorite impact flash in the inset. Photo: Christian Fröschlin

While many of you gazed at the total lunar eclipse on Jan. 20, you probably had no idea you were witnessing something unprecedented. Amateur astronomer Christian Fröschlin of the Netherlands peered up at the skies, and along with some others around the world, he caught a quick glimpse of a bright flash on a corner of the reddish-tinted moon.

Why it matters: While scientists have observed meteorite collisions on the moon before, this appears to be a first to be observed during a total lunar eclipse. According to Nadia Drake, reporting for Scientific American, the moon gets hit on a daily basis by what are typically small meteorites. (Unlike Earth, the moon lacks an atmosphere where such rocks can burn up before hitting the ground.)

Details: While Fröschlin caught some particularly stellar imagery of the collision, many astronomers and sky gazers caught sight of the impact via livestreams of the eclipse from various observatories around the world. Some, as Drake and others wrote, debated the significance of the flash on Reddit and Twitter.

  • Fortunately, one of the observatories involved in the Moon Impact Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) observed the impact flash, according to a Twitter posting by Jose Maria Madiedo, an astronomer at the University of Huelva in Spain. That seemed to settle the debate.

“The impact flash has been recorded by telescopes operating in the framework of MIDAS survey from Europe,” he announced via Twitter. Madiedo included a link to a video of the event captured by the observatory.

The next time you look up and think you spot something unusual, you might just be right. Just ask Fröschlin.

Go deeper: In photos ... Sunday's super blood wolf moon

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.