As if you don’t have enough to worry about
If you’re of a nervous disposition this video may keep you awake at night. It shows all the asteroids discovered in the last 30 years, and their orbital paths. It starts off in 1980 when we only knew about a sprinkling of them, and flicks through a week or two a second to inexorably add to the number of new findings.
Newly discovered asteroids show briefly as white before turning to green.
The most worrying ones are coloured red and yellow. The red ones cross the Earth’s orbit and the yellow ones come fairly close to your back yard.
It’s clearer if you watch it using the HD setting.
The pattern of discovery looks like a searchlight pointing away from the sun. That’s the way astronomers have to look. There’s also a pattern of discovery between the Earth and Jupiter, that’s a by-product of the search for Jovian moons.
Don’t lose too much sleep. It’s not as bad as it looks. There’s a lot of empty space out there and we only get clobbered by a real biggie every 500,000 years or so. If you really need something to fret about there are billions of other quite large objects charging around the Kuiper Belt and trillions more farther out in the Oort Cloud.
Most of them are believed to be fairly stable.
If you do want to frighten the kids there’s more about Scott Manley’s video here. Including a high definition download of the 2010 version of the video.