Subscribe

Watch brilliant meteor dazzle in New England sky (+video)

A meteor burning up in the atmosphere was caught on a Maine police dashboard cam as an officer watched for speeding motorists.

  • close
    A Portland police officer was hoping to catch speeders but ended up capturing a meteor on his dash cam. WMTW News 8's Norm Karkos reports.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

A police officer on the search for speeding drivers captured an unexpected celestial event: a meteoric fireball streaking across the sky.

On Tuesday, police Sgt. Tim Farris was parked in front of Central Fire Station in Portland, Maine, when his dashboard camera captured a meteor entering the atmosphere in an explosion of light. The bright flare was complemented by Sergeant Farris’s exclamatory “Oh, my God.”

“You never know what you are going to see on duty,” the Portland Maine Police Department said in a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post with the video of the meteor. “Sgt. Farris was looking for speeders while parked in front of the central fire station and was able to observe some visitors "from away"....far away. The meteor (or alien spaceship) was caught on camera at approximately 0050 hours.”

While the meteor was a shocking site for Faris and the residents of New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and parts of Canada who happened to glance up at just the right time, meteors burning up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere aren't completely rare. A similar scene was captured in Thailand in September.

Fortunately, most meteors burn up before reaching the Earth, and the majority of those that do land in unpopulated areas.

However, a few isolated incidents in which people have been killed have raised questions, such as how dangerous are meteors striking Earth and how prepared are scientists to detect them.

“The probability of an asteroid striking the Earth and causing serious damage is very remote but the devastating consequences of such an impact suggests we should closely study different types of asteroids to understand their compositions, structures, sizes, and future trajectories,” says NASA says on their website.

Stephen Nelson, an environmental sciences professor with Tulane University, calculates the odds of getting killed by a meteor at about one in 250,000, the Monitor reported in February. For perspective, the average person is four times more likely to die in a flood (one in 60,000) than be killed by a meteor, but still much more likely to be killed by a meteor than win the lottery (one in more than 195 million).

And NASA is working to make those odds even lower. The agency’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office monitor space objects that could be damaging if they entered the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA has already identified more than 13,500 asteroid or comets.

Likewise, the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office keeps track of “space trash” that humans have put into orbit around the Earth. Space debris has recently been a growing concern for the safety of astronauts and space missions, but not for people on Earth.

Asteroid detection, tracking and defense of our planet is something that NASA, its interagency partners, and the global community take very seriously,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in the agency’s news release in January.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK