Friday, January 18, 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth-much, much closer than the moon-on Feb.15.

Source: WSJ News Graphics @WSJGraphics

Visibility map of 2012 DA14:

 Click to enlarge (Source: Geert's research blog)

Discovered by the LaSagra observatory in southern Spain, the small asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass within about 3.5 Earth radii of the Earth's surface on February 15, 2013. Although its size is not well determined, this near-Earth asteroid is thought to be about 45 meters in diameter. Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass inside the geosynchronous satellite ring, located about 35,800 km above the equator. Its orbit about the sun can bring it no closer to the Earth's surface than 3.2 Earth radii on February 15, 2013. On this date, 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.(JPL)

The path of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 is seen passing
 close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2013. (JPL)

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