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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

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.