Lunar light flashes from Perseid meteoroid impacts

Posted: May 15, 2015 by tchannon in Astronomy, moon

Things that wink in the night


Analysis of Moon impact flashes detected during the 2012 and 2013 Perseids
José M. Madiedo, José L. Ortiz, Faustino Organero, Leonor Ana-Hernández, Fernando Fonseca, Nicolás Morales and Jesús Cabrera-Caño
A&A, 577 (2015) A118
Published online: 13 May 2015
DOI: (open access on registration)

We present the results of our Moon impact flash detection campaigns performed around the maximum activity period of the Perseid meteor shower in 2012 and 2013. Just one flash produced by a Perseid meteoroid was detected in 2012 because of very unfavorable geometric conditions, but 12 flashes were confirmed in 2013. The visual magnitude of the flashes ranged between 6.6 and 9.3. A luminous efficiency of 1.8×10 -3 has been estimated for meteoroids from this stream. According to this value, impactor masses would range between 1.9 and 190 g. In addition, we propose a criterion for establishing, from a statistical point of view, the likely origin of impact flashes recorded on the lunar surface.

I  wonder what a lunar orbiter could add. A spectroscopic analysis might be useful although I doubt whether suitable instruments would be in orbit.

Post by Tim

  1. Richard111 says:

    As best as I can make out the date time group on the pics above they are both the same.

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    The moon has hot flushes?

  3. Ian Wilson says:

    In the early days of the Internet I watched a so called expert “professional” astronomer rubbish and demean an elderly amateur astronomer who had reported rapid flashes of light on the Moon surface in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This absolute idiot tried to discredit everything that this older gentlemen claimed using completely spurious arguments [similar to the “argument by authority” used by modern day alarmists]. It is a great pity that this amateur astronomer is not alive today to see how his original work has been totally vindicated.

  4. tchannon says:

    Richard111, yes, two separated telescopes observing. The event is concurrent, hence not shot noise or whatever in the equipment. … see Ian Wilson’s comment.

    Ian, yes, sad stuff but I fear very common.

  5. Richard111 says:

    Thanks Tim. I could see the views were different. Never occurred to me it was two views of the same event. Of course the times would be the same.

  6. tchannon says:

    Comments like that Richard are very useful. At times I come across as taciturn, true, not sure what to say, if I do it turns out to be the wrong thing or wrong way, so button it.

    Technically camera sensor noise includes granularity in intensity, hence looking for fast intensity change looks like noise. The standard way of dealing with this in electronics is differencing where the interfering noise is incoherent between two items (different camera sensors). To a degree the noise falls out of the results.

    A double whammy is wanting high light sensitivity _and_ fast response. This is as bad as it gets.

    Ian indirectly pointed out there will be disbelievers… ‘its the camera noise’ etc. so these researchers use two cameras _and_ examine a known meteor shower, the system will show a much lower flash rate at non-shower times so this adds evidence to the whole, the effect is real.

    I’ll go back to some hairy programming.