Asteroid Discovery 1980-2010

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This animation by the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center shows a beautiful view of the past 30 years of asteroid discoveries, using dataculled by Ted Bowell et al.

As time passes, asteroids are highlighted white and then colored by how closely they come to our inner solar system. Earth crossers are red, Earth approachers are yellow, and all others are colored green.

What you get is a view of the solar system’s planets and asteroids orbiting the sun and these beautiful sparkles in sky. As automated sky scanning systems come online in the 1990s, we see waves of discoveries. Then starting at the beginning of 2010, we see a discovery pattern as a result of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which has been tasked with mapping all infrared light in the sky.

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