Space & Science

Doorbell video records fireball crashing in dark over Alaska

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Ring doorbell video recorded a meteor near Anchorage, Alaska. A dozen witnesses reported the fireball. 

Ring video screengrab

The brightest of winter stars take on magical meaning in the days before Christmas, but not so much when they burst into flames.

That’s what happened Wednesday, Dec. 21, when a brilliant meteor lit the night before crashing near Anchorage, Alaska.

It happened around 5:45 a.m. and the American Meteor Society reports at least a dozen people saw it. This includes some who reported eerie scenes of “a very bright light” flooding through windows, lighting up yards, and rising behind cars driving dark roads.

“I have seen meteor showers in the past, and this was unlike anything I’d ever seen in the night sky,” one woman told the society. “The streak was much, much wider, not like the thin lines of shooting stars or meteor showers.”

Michael and Heather Stewman captured video of the meteor on their Ring doorbell camera.

Their video, lasting seven seconds, shows the plummeting fireball turned the sky an eerie deep blue before appearing to crash behind a treeline. Where it landed remains a mystery.

“I was stunned. The camera captured a faint moving light that grew bigger and brighter in a matter of seconds. There was a burst of light in the sky, and it faded immediately afterward,” Heather Stewman told McClatchy News.

“I showed the video to my husband, and he too was in awe. Neither of us have seen anything like this before. … It looked like it fell in our front yard, but people that were hundreds of miles away were saying the same thing.”

By spooky coincidence, she notes it appeared on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

The couple checked social media and quickly discovered they weren’t the only witnesses. That compelled them to share their video, which had been viewed more than 155,000 times and racked up nearly 2,000 reactions and comments as of Dec. 23.

This includes some who suggested the flaming orb was “a new military aircraft or a new weapon being tested.”

“Seems awfully close,” Dan Sewell posted.

“I saw it this morning in Fairbanks! … Thought I was going crazy (‘seeing things’),” Scherrie Wood wrote.

“That was a (piece) of space junk metal burning up on the atmosphere on entry,” Gary Flower said.

This story was originally published December 23, 2022 4:23 AM.

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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