North Carolina driver captures meteor lighting up the night sky on video

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jul 18, 2014

Newport News, Va. - A fireball travels through the night sky, and it was caught on a dash cam recorder.

"It kind of looked like a firework, you know, like someone had shot one off in their backyard and it headed sideways instead of up," said Dan Perjar.

Perjar, a computer software developer at North Carolina State University, was driving in his car in Raleigh Thursday night when, out of nowhere, a fireball - another word for meteor - lit up the sky.  He spoke to NewsChannel 3 about what he saw.

"It just kind of popped up - bright streak in the sky. It broke apart after the explosion, and it looked like there were a couple of pieces flying through it," said Perjar.

Several people up and down the U.S. East Coast, and some even here in Hampton Roads, were shocked to see it, going straight to social media to report it.  In fact, the American Meteor Society website says nearly 100 people witnessed the bright meteor Thursday night, starting around 10:15 p.m.  Reports show that it crossed over Central Virginia.

Perjar posted his dash cam video to YouTube, and it did not take long for people to notice what he had captured.

"Once they retweeted Twitter blew up basically," said Perjar.

Experts say meteors are made up of particles about the same size, color and texture of the nuggets that you'd find in a bowl of Grape Nuts Cereal.

"A meteor is nothing more than a rock from space," said Kelly Herbst, astronomy curator at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News.  Herbst says meteors happen everyday, some big, some small.  But many of them, we can't see.

"If you get to see it, it's very exciting because if you're not sure what you're seeing, you may think the world is about to end," said Herbst.  "Not only does the rock get hot, the air gets hot.  And usually what you see is not the rock.  You see the glowing air."

In Thursday's event, there were no reports of the meteor hitting the ground.  But it was quite a sight to see if you were lucky.

"I'm not really looking for YouTube hits or to be a celebrity or anything like that.  But it's cool that I could get it on video and I can share it, so hopefully some people find it interesting and maybe learn something," said Perjar.