Earth is about to dodge a bullet as Asteroid 2012 DA flies past in a near-miss situation, coming closer than many communication satellites. Measuring at an estimated 150 feet wide, the asteroid will come within 17,200 miles of the Earth's surface, traveling through the Geosynchronous Ring, which has a distance of approximately 22,000 miles from Earth's surface, and alarmingly closer than the moon's orbit, 239,000 miles from the Earth's surface. While scientists are not 100% the asteroid will not hit Earth, they are sure that we are in for a historical view!
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be at its closest point at 1:24 pm CST (19:24 GMT) on Friday, February 15, 2013 as it zips directly above the eastern Indian Ocean off the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Unfortunately, this means that there will be a very limited viewing area as it travels at the speed of approximately 18,000 miles per hour, roughly eight times faster than a bullet from a high-speed rifle. The asteroid will be virtually invisible to the naked eye, and even with some binoculars and telescopes, it will only appear as a small pinprick of light. Furthermore, the prime viewing locations will be limited to Asia, Australia, and eastern Europe.
How can I increase my chances of viewing Asteroid 2012 DA14?
- Be in the prime viewing areas of Asia, Australia, and eastern Europe
- Use stationary binoculars
- Use a telescope, at least six inches or larger
- Visit Space.com, which will air footage from several telescopes around the world
I am ready to view Asteroid 2012 DA14, what do I need to know?
- The most striking aspect will be the movement of the asteroid - 0.8 degrees per minute, nearly twice the apparent diameter of the moon
- Brightness: Magnitude of +7.4 (the higher the magnitude, the dimmer the object; perfect human eyesight under a very dark sky can only see +6.5)
Unfortunately, by the time it becomes dark in North America, the asteroid will have faded to a magnitude of 12, which is about 100 times dimmer than its closes approach. If you have professional equipment, Asteroid 2012 DA14 can be spotted roughly between the Big and Little Dippers in the far-northern sky, where it will also be moving more slowly as it leaves our visibility.
Love Astronomy? Want to be updated with daily news regarding our sky, both scientific and mystic? Like Hattiesburg New Age Examiner on Facebook! To receive free updates to your inbox or Twitter feed, click the links below this article to Subscribe or Follow me today!
Copyright 2013 Jennifer McDonald / All rights reserved.