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W-File: mt971212.html

Type: Meteor Sighting
Date: December 12, 1997 at about 8 pm
Location: Colfax and Boyceville, Wisconsin

Source: The UFO Roundup, Volume 2 No. 49


On Friday, December 12, 1997, at about 8 p.m., a UFO described as "a glowing orange or red" sphere was seen over Eyota, Minnesota (population 1,448), a town on Interstate Highway 90 about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Minneapolis.

Within 15 minutes, calls were received in police stations to the south in Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri, reporting "a mysterious flash of light."

Experts said the flash was "probably caused by a meteor."

"It was a good-sized red ball," said Wylie Peterson of Colfax, Wisconsin (population 1,110), a town on Highway 170 about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Eau Claire and 261 miles (418 kilometers) northwest of Milwaukee. "It left a pretty good tail behind it. It was too big to be a flare."

In Boyceville, Wisconsin (population 913), a town 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Colfax, a private plane was reported overdue, and townspeople organized a search of the local woods. The search was suspended after they realized that the glow was "probably from the meteor" and not a crashing aircraft.

Astronomers at the University of Minnesota and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa said "the phenomenon was best explained by a single meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere." They noted that December 12 is the height of annual Geminid meteor shower.

"We are constantly bombarded by fragments of old comets," said Lawrence Staunton, a physics and astronomy professor at Drake University. "They are mostly not seen."

The orange fireball, however, was also seen in Cresco, Iowa (population 3,669) on Highway 9 about 228 miles (365 kilometers) northeast of Des Moines. (Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr. and Errol Bruce- Knapp for these reports.)

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