video: Minor Planet discoveries

Recommended: a time-lapse video of minor planets (asteroids) as they are discovered over the past 30 years or so. This new one is updated to mid-2011.

Watch it in the highest resolution your PC will allow. Now, here’s the link!: Turn off the music if you don’t care for it. This video compresses 30 years into about 3 minutes; it might be easier to follow details of the 7-minute version:

Notice 3 things as you watch:

  • Discoveries (flashing in white) follow the earth around its orbit. You can’t discover distant rocks in broad daylight!
  • There are more discoveries in northern winter (top of screen) than in northern summer (bottom of screen).
  • Discoveries tend to “pulse” 12-13 times per year, especially in later years when we’re looking for fainter and fainter objects. You can only see them on nights near the new moon.