It's rare to actually witness a meteorite falling toward Earth. Only 1,042 meteorites were observed and recorded during the past 4,500 years, even though across the planet over 34,000 have been found. A new visualization by designer Carlo Zapponi highlights the wonder of catching a glimpse of such an event. The interactive animation creates a timeline of every meteorite that has been seen falling since 861 AD, building out details on each instance, including the mass, weight, and material of the fallen debris, as well as a link to view where it landed on a map.
Zapponi titled the visualization Bolides, after a type of extremely bright, fireball-like meteorite. The graphic's data comes from The Meteoritical Society, a nonprofit that studies planetary science, but the organization doesn't gather the information firsthand. Instead, it collates the data from other sources, the majority of which comes from the Natural History Museum in London, while additional details from several scientific organizations are used to fill in any gaps. Researchers are now using automated devices to detect meteorites, but even in recent years, witnessing their fall remains an elusive event.