Trifecta of astronomical events this weekend make for exciting sky viewing

Friday night marked the winter solstice, there is a full moon Saturday night and a meteor shower is expected both nights.

Some say it’s like nature’s gift to all of us this holiday, especially if you like to admire the skies.

Scientists say it’s a coincidence that all these astronomical events are happening at the same time. Some of them knew they were coming, like the solstice, but others were not planned, like the fireball that lit up the Minnesota sky.

It’s not unusual for Michael Stanga to capture some of nature’s best light shows on his outdoor camera, but this weather enthusiast found something out of this world on his footage from early Thursday morning.

“No thunderstorms happen or rarely happen in December so I’m like, 'yup, that’s gotta be a meteor,'” Stanga said.  

When Stanga watched the video, he knew he had captured something special.

“Very rare, very rare, absolutely one in a million chance,” he said. “Just so happens to be caught based on lightning detection.”

Stanga wasn’t alone as social media has been lighting up over the past day with Minnesotans sharing stories and videos of a very rare meteor that streaked across the early morning sky.

“It was a pretty fantastic phenomenon,” said Sally Brummel, the Bell Museum Planetarium Manager.

Brummell described just how rare it was.

“Over the whole world there is a thousand of them, but since the world is so big the chance of it happening in your location is not very common, once in a lifetime you might see one,” she said.

She told FOX 9 the meteor is actually a fireball since it burned so bright.

She says it didn’t make a quiet entrance as it traveled thousands of miles per hour through our atmosphere.

“The boom was a sonic boom, cracking the speed of sound,” she said. “It was going really fast.”

Those who were able to experience it in person, or through their videos, feel humbled to be part of this cosmic connection.

“Oh, I’ve never seen something like that ever,” said Stanga.

Winter is officially here with the solstice and while tonight is the longest night of the year, it will only get better from here as the days get longer as we head toward the summer months.