According to the Cosmic Log at NBC News on Feb. 14, an asteroid known as 2012 DA14 will pay us a visit on Friday, Feb. 15. It's approximately 150 feet wide and will pass within 17,200 miles of the Earth, making it our closest encounter with an asteroid in over a hundred years.
And even though that’s a bit close as asteroid passes go, it’ll pose no danger to Earth. Other asteroids have, though. Here’s a little asteroid history from NASA. There were several in prehistoric times, but I’ll keep it to the modern world.
1490: In China, they spoke of a time when “stones fell like rain” on the Qingyang district of Shaanxi Province (now Gansu). As many as 10,000 people were supposed to have perished. The death toll is questioned, but something big happened involving an asteroid breaking up.
1908: One of the most famous asteroid events in history is the Tunguska Event in Siberia. Millions of trees were flattened. “Tunguska” has become a catchphrase for asteroid activists. “Of the asteroids larger than the one that struck Tunguska in 1908, we know less than one percent,” according to former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, chairman and CEO of the B612 Foundation.
1937: Asteroid Hermes missed Earth by a distance of 460,000 miles. Hermes is, in fact, two space rocks flying in tandem, each one thought to be about 1,300 feet wide. Hermes has visited more than once and come even closer.
1972: A blaze over the Rocky Mountains from the southwest to Canada is now known as the Great Daylight Fireball. It passed within 35 miles of the Earth’s surface and possibly grazed it.
1997: Astronomers announced that a mile-wide asteroid known as 1997 XF11 had a chance of hitting Earth in 2028. This news caused flurry of activity and soon died down. The chance of that collision is actually zero. It was thought to be sparked by favorite movies of the time including “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon.”
2004: An asteroid named Apophis (2004 MN4) is given a 1-in-40 chance of hitting Earth in 2029. That was also quickly ruled out; however, it was then proposed that Apophis would strike Earth in 2036. Now, though, it is thought that Apophis won’t bother us at any time in the near future.
2008: Asteroid 2008 TC3 made history as the first time that a near-Earth object’s impact was predicted before it happened. The asteroid exploded entering Earth’s atmosphere over Sudan’s Nubian Desert. Fragments have been recovered.
2011: The closest-ever flyby of a catalogued asteroid happened with Asteroid 2011 CQ11 passing within 3,400 miles of Earth. It was only a meter wide and would have easily burned up in the earth’s atmosphere had it been on course.
2011: Asteroid 2005 YU55 passes Earth at 198,000 miles, closer than the orbit of the moon. This one was big, about the size of an aircraft carrier which made for some great photographic opportunities.
And now we have 2012 DA14 coming on Friday. It won’t be visible to the naked eye, but you might be able to get a look at it through a small telescope if you know where it is. You can go to the Heavens-Above web site to get a fix on the fast-moving asteroid. Click HERE. Follow the directions under 2012 DA14 at the top of the page to get sky charts for your area. If you don’t have one in your area, you probably won’t be able to see the asteroid.