Ground-based observations of lunar meteoritic phenomena

Brian M. Cudnik*, David W. Dunham, David M. Palmer, Anthony Cook, Roger Venable, Peter S. Gural

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The occurrence and visibility of meteoroid impacts on the moon as seen from the earth were little more than speculation prior to November 1999. The best evidence of present-day impact activity came from the seismic experiments left on the Moon during the Apollo era. Past systematic attempts at earth-based observations to document lunar impacts revealed nothing conclusive. However, during the Leonid storms of 1999 and 2001, lunar impact events were for the first time confirmed by multiple independent observers. A total of 15 meteoritic impact flash events have been verified during these storms, with an additional 12 unconfirmed but likely events awaiting confirmation. Estimates of the mass of these meteoroids range from less than one gram for the faintest flashes to more than 10 kg for the brightest observed flash. The fraction of visible light to total energy produced by these events, a quantity known as luminous efficiency, averages about 0.001 for the established events. The confirmation of lunar meteoritic events on the Moon opens a new avenue in lunar and planetary research, one which could help bridge the gap between atmospheric sampling of the smallest components of meteoroid streams and interplanetary debris to the larger scale objects accessible to ground-based telescopes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-161
Number of pages17
JournalEarth, Moon and Planets
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • Hypervelocity impacts
  • Leonid meteors
  • Lunar impact phenomena
  • Moon
  • Transient lunar phenomena


Dive into the research topics of 'Ground-based observations of lunar meteoritic phenomena'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this