bolides

    Thousands of meteorites have collided with the Earth since 2500 BC. 45,716 have been recorded. Only 1,107 have been seen falling.

    found meteorites

    fell meteorites

    Bolides - The project

    BOLIDES is an attempt to visualize and explore the meteorites that have collided with the Earth. The visualization focuses mainly on meteorites that were eye-witnessed when falling and hitting the ground.

    Most meteorite falls are recovered on the basis of eye-witness accounts of the fireball or the impact of the object on the ground. Meteorites fall with virtually equal probability everywhere on the Earth, eye-witnessed meteorites tend to be concentrated in areas with high human population densities such as Europe, Japan, and northern India.

    Bolide - The meteorite

    A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from a body originating in outer space that survives the impact with the Earth's surface. The mass of a meteorite can range from few grams to several tonnes. When a body enters the atmosphere the body to heat up and emits light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting/falling star.

    The word bolide comes from Greek βολίς bolis, which means missile. Astronomers tend to use bolide to identify an exceptionally bright fireball, particularly one that explodes.

    Data and Source

    The data comes from The Meteorite Bulletin, constructed and maintained by the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society.

    The database contains information about each meteorite, including the classification, place and year of discovery, whether if was observed to fall, references to catalogues in which the meteorite is described, and known synonyms that may be encountered in the literature.

    The database indexes several catalogues, including the Catalogue of Meteorites from the Natural History Museum in London, the commercial program MetBase, the Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter, and the Meteoritical Bulletin. It contains detailed information about the meteorites, including narratives of the discovery, mineralogy, petrology, specimen locations, chemical and isotopic composition, and references to the literature. The primary source of information in this database is the Catalogue of Meteorites.

    The primary set includes 45,716 recordings of found and fell meteorites. A meteorite is classified as fell if it has been observed by people or automated devices during its fall.
    BOLIDES shows all the known fell meteorites that have not been classified as doubtful or discredited.

    Dataset last updated on 14th May 2013

    You can download the original dataset at Visualizing.org.

    Acknowledgements

    When I designed BOLIDES I found a big source of inspiration in the awesome project GUN Murders by Periscopic. This great piece of data art combines a strong narrative with a large set of numbers in a way I had not seen before.