Are there any new craters on the Moon? (Intermediate)

I was wondering if there are any new craters on the moon. I read that football field size meteors hit us from time to time and burn up in the atmosphere. Seems to me, something like that hitting the moon would leave a new crater big enough to be seen. Yet, after years of sky watching and reading all the astronmy stuff on the web, I have never heard of one being found. Have any been found or observed?

It turns out that an impactor much larger than a football would be necessary to produce a crater that could be seen from Earth. There is, however, one new crater that has been reported. The location of a crater found in images from the Clementine (1994) mission coincides with an observed flash in 1953. However, there is really no way to know exactly how old the crater is. The crater is about 2 km in diameter and it is estimated that the body that produced it was 300m across. And even that crater is too small to be observed from ground-based telescopes. Here is a link to a news story about it.

There is another crater that was previously thought to be the youngest, created about 800 years ago. A flash was observed and recorded by a monk in Canterbury, but recent study shows that it probably wasn't created then - the flash was actually a meteor that entered the atmosphere in the right place so that, looking from Canturbury, it looked like the Moon was involved, and so the crater is much older.

One way, however, that impacts on the moon might possibly be visible is by observing the flash that occurs when a small impactor hits, which may have occurred during the 1999 Leonid meteor shower.

This page was last updated on July 18, 2015.

About the Author

Cathy Jordan

Cathy got her Bachelors degree from Cornell in May 2003 and her Masters of Education in May 2005. She did research studying the wind patterns on Jupiter while at Cornell. She is now an 8th grade Earth Sciences teacher in Natick, MA.

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