A dazzling fireball lit up the skies above the Minneapolis-St. Paul area early Sunday morning (May 9), at 3 a.m. local time, according to reports.
The American Meteor Society's website received 39 reports about the fireball (including six videos and one photo), from observers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Given the early morning hour of the fireball, many of these videos came from home surveillance cameras.
Fireballs are usually associated with tiny space rocks that enter the Earth's upper atmosphere and break up while they are streaking through, during their meteor, or "shooting star" phase. If any fragments make it to the ground, which is unlikely, those little pieces are called meteorites.
We received 39 reports (+6 videos) so far about a #fireball caught over #Minnesota last Sunday. This event has also been seen from ND, SD & WI.If you saw this event, please report it here: https://t.co/evqkWyLdwGEvent page: https://t.co/DCt2fJh3nPVideo © Wyze video doorbell pic.twitter.com/WQQY3ZMtB3May 10, 2021
One of the automated videos uploaded to the society's website, taken from West Fargo (North Dakota), shows an extremely bright flash and a falling meteor above suburban houses, taken using a Wyze video doorbell. Viewers in the KARE 11 viewing region of Minnesota (including New Brighton, Prior Lake, Oakdale and Cokato) also sent several clips to the news outlet.
"If you stayed up late enough until 3 a.m., you could have saw something fantastic," joked one of the newscasters in discussing the meteor, in a video posted on KARE 11's website.
"I want to invest in one of those Ring cameras, because you can capture stuff like this!" responded a second newscaster, speaking over footage of a blue flash spotted with a doorbell camera.
Fireballs are generally too small to produce sound or fragments large enough to reach the ground (most burn up in the atmosphere), but occasionally people get lucky. In March, a rare meteor was so bright over the United Kingdom and France that people nearby heard a sonic boom and could see the fireball in brighter skies. Earlier that month, searchers found a few meteorite fragments after another meteor sighting in the United Kingdom.
Before you go searching for fragments of Sunday's fireball, consult Space.com's meteorite hunting guide. Make sure you have permission to look on the relevant person or entity's land. If you happen to spot something space rock-like, handle it as little as possible (ideally using gloves if you must) and send it to a local meteorite researcher for analysis. Usually the researcher will ask to keep a bit of the sample as payment.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace