Interactive meteor graphic
Every year, thousands of meteoroids crash into Earth's atmosphere, creating stunning displays of 'shooting stars' that can be seen from the surface below.

In a remarkable interactive website, researchers have plotted all the major meteor streams that orbit the sun, revealing the paths of those which give rise to meteor showers on Earth.

The visualization, created by engineer Ian Webster, allows users to view each stream in relation to our entire solar system or even watch from the perspective of Earth, showing the breathtaking magnitude of the space pebbles that bombard our planet.

The interactive site shows 12 different meteor showers that occur throughout the year, from the upcoming Lyrids in April to the Ursids in December. Or, you can choose to view every meteor shower at once.

The data comes from measurements by NASA's CAMS video camera surveillance network and calculations by meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center.

Complied into one stunning visualization, the interactive site displays these meteor streams as bright specks moving through the solar system. 'This visualization shows these meteoroid streams orbiting the Sun, some stretching to the outer regions of the solar system,' the website explains.

'Select the meteor shower in the menu to see the corresponding meteoroid stream in space.' The website also shows the Milky Way and the orbits of other planets in the solar system.

And, it shows how these streams move along their orbits as the years pass, giving viewers a glimpse far into the future.

While meteor showers create streaks in the sky that can be seen on Earth from miles away, the meteoroids that cause them are actually quite small. 'Meteor showers on Earth are caused by streams of meteoroids hitting our atmosphere,' the site explains.

'These meteoroids are sand- and pebble-sized bits of rock that were once released from their parent comet. 'Some comets are no longer active and are now called asteroids.'

The next meteor shower, the Lyrids, is set to take place in April. The Lyrids typically peak around April 22, bring up to 20 meteors per hour.