Thursday, February 7, 2013

Asteroid Coming - Earth Safe

On February 15 at 2:25pm EST, a 150-foot long asteroid will zoom harmlessly by the Earth.  Let me repeat -
it will NOT hit the Earth.
But it will be wicked-close to us!

For a brief time on Friday, Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be the closest thing to Earth.  The Moon is, on average, about 240,000 miles from Earth while this asteroid (I will nickname Dan) will pass just 17,200 miles above our atmosphere – the closest pass by any asteroid known in advance.  That’s definitely a close shave, but it has absolutely no chance of hitting the Earth.

Astronomers can track the positions of asteroids with amazing accuracy. The Cincinnati Observatory was in charge of collecting data on asteroids and comets from 1947-1978. Dr. Paul Hegret ran the internationally recognized Minor Planet Center out of the Cincinnati Observatory in Mount Lookout.

Unfortunately Dan (Asteroid 2012 DA14) will not be visible from the Cincinnati area when it makes its closest approach (we’ll be facing the other way and it'll be daylight).  It’s so small that even at its closest it will be a 7th magnitude object - so dim that observers in Europe, Asia, and Australia will still need binoculars or a telescope just to see it.  
For more coverage on Dan, go to:  There'll be a link to a live webcast on February 15.
I can't wait to see the video amateur astronomers make of it!