Did a Group of Monks Witness an Asteroid Crashing into the Moon?

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On June 18, 1178 AD, a group of five monks in Canterbury observed a series massive explosions on the moon. What were they?

Christ Church at Canterbury – Image Credit Public Domain

The story comes to us from Gervase of Canterbury, who as an early English chronicler for the abbey of Christ Church in Canterbury. According to Gervase, a group of five monks were sitting on a hill outside of a monastery when they saw the event take place.

The upper horn [of the moon] split in two. From the midpoint of the division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire, hot coals and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the Moon which was below writhed, as it were in anxiety, and to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the Moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance.

Gervase of Canterbury

According to modern research, this may have been the impact event that created the crater Giordano Bruno, named after the famous esoteric mystic we have covered before.

The Massive Crater of Giordano Bruno – Image Credit Public Domain

According to NASA scientists, the rays that can be seen in zoomed out photos of the crater indicate that it is fairly recent and could easily match with the time period reported by the monks.

The ray patterns overlay nearly all of the other craters in the region. Image Credit Public Domain

In fact, the ray patterns are so large, they exceed that of any other crater on the lunar surface, indicating that the impact is not only fresh but would have been profound. Some scientists, however, proposed another theory.

They believe that the monks could have observed a meteorite entering the earth’s atmosphere and passing in front of the moon, from their perspective. This would have created the illusion of the moon wobbling, due to the effect of heat in the atmosphere, as well as audible sounds.

This would not explain the curious observation that the fiery event created a crescent on the dark side of the moon, illuminating the side that would not normally be lit. This detail seems to line up better with the Giordano Bruno impact event, thought to have been asteroid or comet around 2 miles in diameter.

Regardless, we have no other accounts from the time period which chronicle the event, at least none that we have found so far, so the mystery continues.

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