HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — On December 2 around 3 a.m., Sergeant Michael Virga with the Hamilton Township Police Department was working the overnight shift.
At 3:09 a.m., he turned down Drosera Avenue.
“I was just patrolling the neighborhood, trying to keep the neighborhood safe while everyone else was sleeping when I see this object in the sky,” recalled Virga.
Virga pulled over and activated his dashcam.
“These tapes they record backwards. They’re consistently running so they overwrite themselves if we don’t activate it. Once I realized what I saw, I went back and was able to catch the whole thing,” he said.
The video shows a bright ball of light streaking through the sky. As it curves toward earth, it turns green, and brightens the pitch black sky.
“It obviously wasn’t normal. I’m thinking [it is a] firework at first and then my mind starting thinking the trajectory. It doesn’t seem like it’s a firework,” said Virga.
In fact, what Sergeant Virga witnessed was a meteorite burning up as it entered into earth’s atmosphere.
“The heavy materials, mostly iron and nickel coming into contact with the earth’s atmosphere moving at incredibly high speeds caused a fireball across the sky,” explained Mickey Maley, the assistant director of public programs at the Franklin Institute.
Maley says it’s hard to tell where the meteorite was located, but it could have been thousands of miles away. In all likelihood, Maley says it fully disintegrated before it even reached earth’s surface.
Fortunately, Sergeant Virga captured a great glimpse of a rare astronomical event.
“I don’t think the video did it justice,” said Virga. “I’m glad everyone is enjoying looking at it, but it really lit up the sky and that lime green color was very vibrant.”