A Pine County deputy caught a once-in-a-lifetime shot on his dashcam at about 6:50 in the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 16.
In a four-second video posted on the Pine County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, the dashcam shows a brightly glowing ball of white light arcing down from the top left corner of the screen.
The deputy was near Soo Line and Denham Road near the town of Denham, and appears to be facing east, as the ball of light drops toward the signs of dawn appearing on the horizon. The ball of light flickers and appears to be throwing off smoke, showing a definite tail.
And then, at three seconds into the video, the ball explodes into a cloud of orange fire.
A fraction of a second later and the explosion recedes, and it appears there are now two much smaller white balls falling.
Then the remnants from the meteor go behind a cloud and are gone.
Witnesses reported spotting the meteor from Hermantown (58 miles distant), Minneapolis (110 miles distant), Ashland, Wisconsin, (120 miles distant), Eagan (120 miles distant), Grey Eagle (125 miles distant), Woodville, Wisconsin (130 miles distant) and Black River Falls, Wisconsin (220 miles distant).
Witnesses described the sight as “awesome,” amazing,” “a huge bright green fireball that exploded.”
The meteor may have been part of the Geminid meteor shower, which was expected to hit the earth’s atmosphere starting on Dec. 4 and ending on Dec. 17.
According to NASA (blogs.nasa.gov/Watch_the_Skies/tag/geminid-meteor-shower/), the Geminid meteors hit the atmosphere at about 78,000 miles an hour. They begin burning up at 63 miles from the surface, and rarely make it to 25 miles above the surface.
Those interested can see the video themselves on the Pine County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.