An officer of the Township of Hamilton Police Department caught a sighting of a fireball blazing across the New Jersey night sky with his dash cam while on patrol on Dec. 2.
The police typically use such cameras to gather evidence during car chases and traffic stops, but in this case, a member of the force captured an astonishing event with his paraphernalia.
New Jersey Fireball Lights Up The Sky
According to the Township of Hamilton Police Department via a Facebook post, the officer who recorded the fireball is Sgt. Michael Virga.
"It kind of took me by surprise. I just saw a little blip — it lit up the entire sky like a lime green streak," he told NJ.com.
The American Meteor Society or AMS then confirmed that it was a meteor, saying that it has received more than 120 reports of the event and that it could primarily be seen from Pennsylvania.
Very nice! We received 133 reports about this event so far (https://t.co/wUGMLVrfGB )
— AMSMETEORS (@amsmeteors) December 7, 2017
The AMS also continues to say that the fireball was also visible to 12 other states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington DC.
The meteor's trajectory is estimated to be from the Northeast to the Southwest, ending somewhere around New Buffalo, Pennsylvania. That assessment is based on the eyewitness reports.
'Unusually Bright' Meteor
Mike Hankey of the AMS told 6abc Action News that the meteor was "unusually bright."
"I could tell how fast it was going and that it was most likely a cometary fireball because of the speed, and then we traced back the path and it intersected with Gemini, which is the parent radiant of the Geminid meteor shower," he said.
The society explained to the Township of Hamilton Police Department what its officer captured on his dash cam, saying that a fireball is essentially a "very bright meteor."
"AMS states a fireball is another term for a very bright meteor or about the same brightness of the planet Venus as seen in the morning or evening sky. A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation," the New Jersey police department said.
The Geminids meteor shower is occurring from Dec. 4 to Dec. 23, but it's said to peak from the evening of Dec. 13 to the morning of Dec. 14. At least 60 meteors an hour are expected to be visible.