Asteroid to fly by Earth
At 7:24 PM UTC (19:24) on Friday, February 15, 2013, an asteroid called 2012 DA14, will come close to the Earth, closer than any other asteroid of similar size has ever come in recorded history.
Update: This event has passed
Scientists have ruled out any possibility of it impacting the Earth.
According to astronomers, the asteroid, which has a diameter of about 0.028 miles (45 meters), will be around 17,200 miles (27,700 km) from the Earth’s surface at its closest point.
More about Asteroids and 2012 DA14
Asteroids are small planet-like objects orbiting the Sun. Usually measuring anywhere between a few feet to several hundred miles in diameter, most asteroids belong to the Asteroid Belt - the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The largest asteroid known to man, Ceres, is about 590 miles (950 kms) in diameter.
Also known as planetoids or minor planets, asteroids are thought to be remnants from the solar system’s formation.
While asteroids tend to stay within the asteroid belt, gravitation pulls from other planets and celestial objects, and other space perturbations can sometimes push asteroids close to the orbit of other planets. Asteroids, including 2012 DA14, that are pushed close to the Earth’s orbit are known as Near Earth Asteroids.
2012 DA14 was discovered in 2012 by LaSagra Observatory in southern Spain. At the time of its discovery, the asteroid's orbital period around the Sun was 368 days. Its close encounter with the Earth, however, will change this period to 317 days. According to NASA, this is the last time the asteroid will be this close to the Earth for the next 30 years.
Despite its proximity to the Earth, 2012 DA14 will be hard to observe for two reasons. First, the asteroid will move at a very high speed - at around 17,400 miles/ hour (28002 km/ hour). Second, the asteroid is so small that it will be hard to detect without specialized equipment.
According to astronomers following the asteroid, observers in Indonesia will have the best view of the asteroid.
Visibility of 2012 DA14
To see if the asteroid is visible in your city, go to our City Search page, and search for your city. Click on the city link and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the asteroid flyby section.
No threat to the Earth
Throughout history, asteroids have been known to collide with the surface of the Earth. It is believed that the extinction of dinosaurs occurred due to an asteroid impact.
Scientists estimate that if an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 collided with the Earth, the impact would be as destructive as setting off a 2.4 megaton bomb.
However, there is nothing to worry about on February 15, 2013. Scientists have ruled out any possibility of the asteroid hitting the Earth.
Note: Information for this article comes from NASA's Near Earth Object Program.