A Meteor in South Jersey?

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MAYS LANDING, N.J. -

Was it a bird? A plane? No, for one Mays Landing viewer, a meteor flashing above her backyard was caught on camera.

“It was pretty amazing to see this light coming through the sky, and then almost like an explosion,” said Nancy Castrenze, of Mays Landing, over the phone. “We were pretty amazed. It’s just not something that you capture on camera,” said Castrenze. “I mean, what’s the chance of something so quick like that being caught on camera?”

“It’s not that they’re big, they’re coming in fast,” said Joseph Sowers, an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Stockton University.  “They come in anywhere from 25,000 to 160,000 miles per hour.” Meteors are pretty common this time of year, with three or four of them flying by every night

After looking at the video captured a little after 3:00 a.m. last week, Sowers says the meteor definitely came in hot, but the chance it actually touched down is low.

“They’re small rocks,” explained Sowers. “Bits of stone and sometimes metal. And they vaporize in the atmosphere, about 50 to 75 miles up.”

“Being in the middle of the night like that, how many people really saw it?” said Castrenze.

Although they’re vaporizing miles away in the air, Sowers said meteors are pretty common this time of year, with three or four of them flying by every night.

“Seemed to be what we would call a normal meteor, coming, flashing in,” said Sowers.

If you missed the meteor from last week’s video, don’t worry! The professor says that Wednesday, December 13th, we’ll be able to see something spectacular, no night vision or observatory needed.

“We are having the Geminids, which is a meteor shower,” said Sowers. “And people can expect to see 75 to 120 an hour.”

That will take place on December 13th going into the 14th around 1:00 a.m.

And if it’s a clear night, we will have a front row seat while planet Earth drives us through a dust and debris trail, also known as a meteor shower.


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