What mysterious explosion on the moon was observed by monks in the Middle Ages

The Chronicle of Gervase

Monk Gervase was the chronicler of Christ Church Abbey. He claimed to have recorded everything that happened from witnesses' accounts accurately. Gervase wrote that the men were looking at the new crescent when they suddenly saw that its upper part had suddenly "split in two." Monk wrote: "From the central part of the moon burst forth as if a flaming torch, spewing fire, burning embers, and sparks at a considerable distance. Meanwhile the moon twitched like a wounded snake. Then it stopped, and then it happened again. The outlandish phenomenon was repeated again and again, several dozen times. The blazing fire took an infinite number of different forms. It would disappear, then it would reappear. Suddenly it stopped. After all this, the crescent moon, from edge to edge, along its entire length, turned black."

This story, described by a medieval monk, remained forgotten for centuries. It wasn't until the 1970s that geophysical scientist, Jack Hartung, rediscovered it. Since then, these records have attracted consistently great interest among astronomers the world over. Hartung speculated that the monks witnessed an asteroid colliding with the moon or a meteorite falling. Experts have suggested that the 22-kilometer-long crater of Giordano Bruno was most likely the result of this event. The time period of its formation corresponded to the date of the then observed extraordinary phenomenon.

Scientific studies

Scientists argue that this popular idea does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Some believe that this celestial spectacle, witnessed by five people in 1178, was the impact that created Giordano Bruno's lunar crater. However, a recent analysis of ancient astronomical archives casts doubt on this theory.

The fact is that such a collision would have caused a week-long meteor storm on Earth, similar to a snowstorm. It was simply impossible not to notice something like that. Meanwhile, there is no mention of anything like this anywhere. No world historical texts do not contain a single mention of anything like that! Further detail on everything in order.

In 1976 a geologist suggested that the description of the phenomenon corresponds to the location and age of the lunar crater Giordano Bruno, the youngest crater of this size on the Moon. Judging by its size, it was the impact of a huge asteroid. The whole point is that such an occurrence would jeopardize the safety of our planet. Obviously, the theory gets in trouble. The lack of historical records is not all it's cracked up to be.

Giordano Bruno's crater simply could not have formed just eight centuries ago. Astronomer Tomokatsu Morota claims that this crater is one to ten million years old. Cosmogeologist Jörg Fritz also believes that the crater Giorgiano Bruno is at least a million years older. He also added that there are no signs of such youth in this formation.

In addition, experts in astronomy say that an impact of such force would have raised an incredibly huge amount of debris. This, in turn, would have caused a real meteor storm on Earth. It would have lasted at least a week. If people witnessed the formation of Giordano Bruno's crater in 1178, they should also have witnessed a massive meteor shower in the following nights. But no one has documented what must have been a very impressive fireworks display in any of the world's annals of astronomy. This suggests that the monks did not actually witness the collision of the moon with the asteroid.

So what did the monks see?

Paul Weathers of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Research Laboratory believes these men simply saw a meteor explode in Earth's atmosphere in front of the dark disk of the moon. "I think they were in the right place at the right time to look up into the sky and see a meteorite that was right in front of the moon and flying in their direction," Weathers said. "And it was a pretty impressive-sized meteorite. It caught fire in the Earth's atmosphere. These five people were just lucky enough to observe something like that."

The researcher also suggests that people didn't see anything that impressive at all. He believes that the moon was not yet visible in Canterbury that evening of June 18, 1178. Perhaps the date was wrong? Or perhaps the whole episode is just made up? For example, historian Peter Nockolds believes that Gervase's story was complete fiction.

"The supposed event took place during the Crusades," Nockolds explains. "The moon is a well-known symbol of Islam. The phenomenon described by Gervase could be interpreted as a harbinger of the defeat of Islam." After all, monks used to associate celestial phenomena with Christian victories in the Crusades. Gervase himself made similar assumptions on several occasions.

The lunar phenomenon described on June 18, 1178, may have been a fabrication for propaganda purposes. It could have been justified politically and said that Islam would be defeated if Frederick Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor, intervened.

Mystery of History or Fiction

No chronicle of the time records such a phenomenon. This has led scholars to believe that Withers is right. Witnesses to the event were simply in the right place at the right time. They were lucky enough to see the spectacular spectacle of the moon colliding with a meteorite.

So, mystery solved? Perhaps there wasn't even anything mysterious here. After all, some scientists even now consider everything described by Gervase to be just a figment of his imagination. It is quite possible that no one will ever know the truth.


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