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Show-Off Asteroid’s Celestial Smack-Down: Record-Breaking Meteorite Crash on Moon Sparks Brightest Lunar Explosion Ever

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Space.com‘s  Megan Gannon reports:  The high-speed impact of a wayward space rock on the surface of the moon last year triggered the brightest lunar explosion ever seen, scientists say.

“At that moment I realized that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event”

Video footage of the record-breaking meteorite strike on the moon, which occurred on Sept. 11, 2013 and was unveiled today (Feb. 24), shows a long flash that was almost as bright as the North Star Polaris. That means the boulder-sized meteorite’s lunar crash could have been visible to anyone on Earth who happened to be staring up at the moon at 8:07 p.m. GMT, weather permitting.

[Check out the book “Threats from Space: A Review of U.S. Government Efforts to Track and Mitigate Asteroids and Meteors”  (Part I & Part II) from Amazon]

“At that moment I realized that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event,” Jose Madiedo, a professor at the University of Huelva, said in a statement. Madiedo witnessed the collision using two moon-watching telescopes in the south of Spain that are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, or MIDAS observatory.

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US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document

The bomb that nearly exploded over North Carolina was 260 times more powerful than the device which devasted Hiroshima in 1945. Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images

The bomb that nearly exploded over North Carolina was 260 times more powerful than the device which devasted Hiroshima in 1945. Photo: Three Lions/Getty Images

A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage. Read the rest of this entry »