Within the moon’s distance from the Earth, approximately 21,000 miles from us and closer than the orbits of geosynchronous sattellites, but it won’t hit us. But what if it hits one of those sattellites?
Hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day, just in case…
Asteroid 2012 DA14 to sweep close on February 15, 2013
EARTHSKY // BLOGS // SPACE Deborah Byrd FEB 12, 2013
It’ll pass within the moon’s distance from Earth – closer than the orbits of geosynchronous satellites. But it won’t strike us in 2013.
A near-Earth asteroid – called 2012 DA14 by astronomers – will pass very close to Earth on February 15, 2013. Astronomers estimate that, when it’s closest to us, it’ll be within the orbit of the moon (which averages about a quarter million miles away), and closer than some high-orbiting communications satellites. 2012 DA14 will be about 17,200 miles (27,680 kilometers) away. It will not strike Earth in 2013. Astronomers’ calculations of asteroid orbits can be trusted. After all, even decades ago, they knew enough about calculating orbits to send people to the moon and bring them safely back, and today we are able place our space vehicles in orbit around objects as small as asteroids.
The asteroid won’t be visible to the eye, but you can watch the February 15 asteroid flyby online, in real-time.
So, no, 2012 DA14 won’t strike us in 2013. There was a remote possibility it might strike us in 2020, but that possibility has been ruled out also.
What will happen when Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes closely in 2013?
What will happen when it passes us? The short answer is … nothing. On the day it passes, most of us won’t see it or be aware of its passage, in any way. The asteroid won’t alter the tides. It won’t cause volcanoes. It’ll just sweep closely past us – as millions of asteroids have done throughout Earth’s four-and-a-half-billion-year history – some in your own lifetime.
The asteroid will be within range for small telescopes and solidly mounted binoculars, used by experienced observers who have access to appropriate stars charts. Here’s what NASA says about its visibility:
On [February 15, 2013], the asteroid will travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky with its closest Earth approach occurring about 19:26 UTC when it will achieve a magnitude of less than seven, which is somewhat fainter than naked eye visibility. About 4 minutes after its Earth close approach, there is a good chance it will pass into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes or so before reappearing from the eclipse. When traveling rapidly into the northern morning sky, 2012 DA14 will quickly fade in brightness.
Full Story at earthsky.org