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Seen any meteors lately? Map shows 4,300 years of impacts

February 20, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • A screen capture of the
A screen capture of the

If you thought that asteroid that scorched through the Russian sky last week was something out of the ordinary, think again.

An interactive map that’s going viral shows the location, size, and chemical makeup of every asteroid and meteor that has slammed into the Earth since 2,300 BC.

If only we had dashboard cameras back then to capture the very first one!

The map was created by Javier de la Torre, a blogger in New York and cofounder of mapping company CartoDB. Like something out of a game of Thermonuclear War or "Missile Command," the map blotches Earth’s continents with colored circles based on the size and frequency of meteor impacts. De la Torre used data from the Meteoritical Society to map his points.

According to the map, the United States’ East and West coasts have gotten off lightly through the millenniums. Not so much for the Midwest and South, however, which seem to be relatively frequent targets for the cosmos’ rocky debris.

Unfortunately, not all impacts are accurately portrayed to scale. Finding the Chicxulub asteroid (some think it may have been a comet) took some searching. It’s a tiny dot on top of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, just above Merida. The dot is apparently so small because there’s no data on just how big Chicxulub was when it hit.

But don’t let the size of the dot fool you. That’s the object that probably led to the demise of the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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