When astronomical events are visible from earth, skywatchers are lucky to catch a glimpse, let alone a video. For Officer Jim Dexter, however, it was about being in the right place at the right time. The Lisle, Illinois police officer witnessed “a giant green-lighted orb,” which was captured on his police dash cam, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The object captured by Dexter’s in vehicle camera system turned out to be a meteor, which was visible throughout the Midwest, according to the American Meteor Society. The society reported receiving more than 380 reports of the event.
“The fireball was seen primarily from Illinois and Wisconsin, but witnesses from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, New York, Kentucky, Minnesota and Ontario (Canada) also reported the event,” they wrote on their website.
As one of the lucky people who spotted the meteor, Dexter shared the his dash camera video, which was later Tweeted by the National Weather Service.
“It was too good not to share,” Dexter told the Chicago Tribune. “I thought about how few people actually saw it, but then there’s the amount of people I got to share it with.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Dexter’s camera was not the only one pointing at the meteor. Officer Patrick Murphy, of the Chillicothe Police Department, also captured the fireball as he was driving.
“It definitely caught me off guard a little bit,” Murphy told the Chicago Tribune. “Obviously, I was not expecting to see that. I figured it was probably a meteor because I don’t know what else it could possibly be.”
Meteors and other astronomical events are frequently captured by in vehicle camera systems, because the camera is constantly recording as the officer is on patrol. Some departments make references to extraterrestrial visitors when these sightings happen. In 2016, Police Sgt. Tim Farris caught a bright meteor streaking through the sky over Portland, Maine, the home of Stephen King. His department was quick to the King and alien jokes, USA Today reported.
“Let’s hope the visitors are friendly,” the department wrote on its Facebook page. “They could just be some of Stephen King’s friends on their way to visit him.”
With 72% of highway patrol and state police cars equipped with video systems, odds are we will be seeing many more police-captured videos of space phenomena.