As telescopes have improved over the last three decades, more and more asteroids have been discovered and these have been charted on an increasingly congested map of the solar system. Manley has created a three minute video clip, which is the equivalent of two months per second, and added the path of each new asteroid as it has been discovered.
Green dots represent the number of minor planets in the asteroid belt, yellow dots being asteroids called ‘Earth-approachers’ whose path comes near our solar system, and finally the red dots or ‘Earth-crossers’, which are those that fly around the inside of the Earth’s orbit.
Manley, a former research student at Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland, created 'maps' every day from 1980 to 2010 to pinpoint the location of asteroids discovered by telescopes. Thirty years ago we knew of only 8,954, whereas today the number discovered has risen to 530,091.
Asteroids are small solar system bodies (smaller than planets) that orbit the sun. Their size can range from 950km for the largest known asteroid called Ceres, to as little as a few metres across.
Small asteroids with a diameter of around five to 10 metres enter Earth's atmosphere about once a year, but normally explode before impact. Larger asteroids of about 1km in size strike roughly every 500,000 years.
But don’t be too concerned by the video – although the positions of the asteroids are to scale, the size of the objects are expanded to make them visible, with one pixel on the screen being equal to 1 million kms.. This means that although an asteroid may appear to be right on top of the Earth in the video, in fact it could be up to a million kms away!
Watch the video in full below.