“Asteroid 2012 DA14″ is narrowly missing us today. And by “narrowly,” I mean around 17,000 miles. Sure, that’s quite a lot, but in space terms it’s the equivalent of tossing a ball of paper into your trash-can from across your office. Anyhoo, here’s a bit of info about our new space-friend.
The asteroid is 150-foot wide. As it passes near us, our gravity will actually alter its path and from the sounds of it, it won’t come anywhere near us in the foreseeable future. A similar asteroid HAS hit the earth before, back in 1908. That one was only 100 feet wide, exploded in the air over Siberia (the “Tunguska Event”), and flattened around 825 square miles. This rock was discovered by amateur astronomers in southern Spain almost a year ago today on February 23rd. Then, it was 2.7 million miles from the earth. It was right after their discovery when NASA started keeping an eye on it, and the PhD’s started calculating with their slide-rules.
This afternoon at 2:24 (our time), it will be above Indonesia, which will then be its closest point to the earth, which is about 1/13th of the way to the moon. It will actually pass underneath the GPS satellites that you argue with daily.
We ARE safe though, so don’t worry about a thing. Bill Nye says though, if the earth were about 15 minutes ahead in its orbit, we’d have a collision. But we’re good. Don’t worry.
“Can I watch it?” Well, the best views will be in Australia, Asia and Eastern Europe (but far too dim to see; you’d need binoculars or a telescope, AND need to know exactly where to look). Buuuuut, you can watch it online here.