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Wrong location or cloudy skies? Catch asteroid 2012 DA14 on the NASA webcast Feb 15 @ 11:AM PST
On February 15th, a 50 meter asteroid designated 2012 DA14 will pass by the earth at a distance of about 17,200 miles. For perspective, geo-stationary satellites orbit at 22,200 miles – which puts 2012 DA14 passing inside the geosynchronous ring. This is also exciting because, for those of you in the right timezone, this tiny object will get as bright as magnitude 8. That’s still not visible with the naked eye, but plenty visible for amateur telescopes.
Now, just so you don’t get too jumpy, it’s worth mentioning that the orbit of the ISS is between 205-255 miles. In relative terms, you can consider 2012 DA14 to be passing at a close but safe distance. NASA calculations project that this will be by far the closest pass 2012 DA14 will make to Earth through at least 2089.
Sadly for those of us in the US, the timing doesn’t work out to see this little bugger – we’ll be on the sunny side of the planet as the asteroid flies by on the far side. For those of you in Europe or the UK though, this should be an amazing opportunity to catch a glimpse of this space rock. On Feb 16th, I’ll be looking for your photos!
Check out this video on 2012 DA14 from NASA ScienceCast:
[Edit 2/4/13] One more good short NASA video on this object:
Near Earth Asteroids
Did you know there are more than 9,000 near-earth asteroids? (9,562 as of this writing.)
A near-earth asteroid is classified as any asteroid in an orbit that brings it within 1.3 AU at perihelion. (In english, that’s within 1.3 times the average distance between the earth and the sun at the object’s closest approach to the sun).