Earth is bombarded all the time by space rocks, but people rarely notice them–only 1,042 have ever been seen falling. People didn’t start recording these impacts until a couple hundred years ago, and then suddenly, they noticed all the time.
Data designer Carlo Zapponi has a lovely new animation, Bolides, showing all these recorded impacts, along with every known meteorite fall–most of which weren’t seen when they happened. The information comes from The Meteorite Bulletin, which is maintained by the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society. The word “bolide” comes from the Greek word for missile, and is used to describe bright fireballs.
The database doesn’t yet include the giant Chelyabinsk meteorite, which fell over Russia earlier this year. But it’s still fun to explore meteorite falls by size and watch Earth get bombarded through time. Go here to see the animation for yourself.