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Caught on tape: violent explosions on the sun and moon

On September 11 last year, a large asteroid crashed into the moon.  On January 28 this year, the sun unleashed a vivid flare.   In both cases, telescopes were strategically positioned to record these dramatic events like never before.

Lunar explosion

Space.com reports the asteroid that struck the moon triggered the brightest explosion ever seen on its surface:

The space rock hit at a staggering speed of 37,900 mph (61,000 km/h), gouging out a new crater roughly 131 feet (40 meters) wide in an ancient lava-filled lunar basin known as Mare Nubium … The scientists think the boulder behind the crash was about 880 lbs. (400 kg) and measured between 2 and 4.5 feet (0.6 and 1.4 meters) in diameter.


Screen shot of asteroid exploding on moon (YouTube/Jm Madiedo)

You can watch it here:

The footage was grabbed by Jose Madiedo, a professor at the University of Huelva, who operates two moon-watching telescopes in the south of Spain, part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, according to Space.com.

Solar flare

NASA says the solar  flare captured by its Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) on January 28 was the largest since it was launched in the summer of 2013.  


NASA’s IRIS records dramatic solar flare (NASA)

Watch below:

"On Jan. 28, 2014, NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, witnessed its strongest solar flare since it launched in the summer of 2013," NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center reported. "Solar flares are bursts of x-rays and light that stream out into space, but scientists don't yet know the fine details of what sets them off." (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Prior to the eruption, scientists had intentionally pointed IRIS towards the region where the flare occurred.

“… IRIS can’t look at the entire sun at the same time, so the team must always make decisions about what region might provide useful observations,” NASA writes. “On Jan. 28, scientists spotted a magnetically active region on the sun and focused IRIS on it.”

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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