by Luisa Villani-Gong
For those witnessing the January 20, 2019 lunar eclipse in the New Jersey area there was an added treat: a fireball event.
At approximately 10:48 p.m. local time, a fireball fell in the skies south west of our area. The eclipse was in it’s “first bite” phase, when a distinctive blue-green streak passed between the moon and the dog star, Sirius. It flared to a bright blue and appeared to “shatter” into many fragmented sparks before making Earth contact.
Several sightings of this event were recorded on the American Meteor Society website and can be viewed on their web page:
The second event occurred at 11:41 p.m. EST, just a few seconds after the eclipse reached totality and the Moon fully displayed its reddish “blood moon” hue. A space rock struck the Moon’s surface, west of Mare Humorum (Sea of Moisture). The event was visible through binoculars and was recorded by many amateur astronomers, as well as the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles,CA.
The size of the object striking the Moon has been estimated to be about the size of a football, and its resulting flash lasted only 1/30 of a second. If it had not occurred during the time of the lunar eclipse, it might well have gone unnoticed due to the occluding brightness of the Moon’s surface.