CEDAR GROVE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey man may have the only video of a meteor that flew overhead Monday night.
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported Tuesday, people across the northeast spotted the shooting star. But it was Peter Czech’s dashboard camera that recorded it.
It had been an ordinary drive down Interstate 287 for Czech, of Cedar Grove. But it ended with video that turned out to be extraordinary as a ball of light flashed over the field of view of the dashcam.
“You just see a huge fireball, like, over the horizon — like someone took a firework at, like, at 500 feet and shot it straight out,” Czech said. “And there was, like, a tail — maybe 10 pieces of just yellow. It was really cool.”
The dashcam was a Christmas gift from Czech’s father, who was also in the car as they drove back to Cedar Grove from Pennsylvania.
“It’s one of those gifts that you open up and you’re like, ‘What am I going to do with this?’” Czech said. “And then it actually has a practical purpose.”
Indeed it did. The six-second clip of video could only have been captured by a camera that was already rolling, such as Czech’s dashcam.
Czech’s video was being examined Tuesday by meteor experts, including Denton Ebel of the American Museum of Natural History.
“I’d love to see more about what colors were, and whether it really fragmented. How strong was the fragmentation? Did people hear things?” Ebel said.
He said new technology is enabling the capturing of more video of meteors.
“This is something out of the blue, like most of these meteorites are,” Ebel said. “They just come into the atmosphere, and they’re small objects – relatively small – compared, for example, to Chelyabinsk, which was an 18-meter object.”
The Chelyabinsk meteor hurled across the Russian sky in February of last year, before exploding and landing in a lake. The blast damaged buildings and had nearly 1,200 people reporting injuries.
The blast from the Chelyabinsk meteor was estimated to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs, CBS News reported at the time.
But such an impact is very rare – happening once every 100 years. And earthlings who talked to CBS2 said they were not concerned.
“It’s not in my realm of importance,” one woman said.
Since just a small percentage of the earth is covered with cities, experts do not focus on a meteor strike. But they do advise that people keep their cameras rolling to capture meteors in action.
The meteor experts said not only does video help then, but so do GPS and weather radar devices that pinpoint exact locations.
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