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Asteroid 2012 DA 14

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NASA animation/Courtesy: NASA NASA animation/Courtesy: NASA

You may have seen on an internet news service about a close approach of a small asteroid 2012 DA 14. This small asteroid was discovered by Astronomers at the Observatorio Astronomico de La Sagra in Spain on 23 Feb 2012. Not much is known about the origins of this asteroid. Its shape is in a rough spherical form about 135ft (45m) across in size. The orbit or path of this asteroid has been carefully tracked and calculated. This asteroid will have a close approach to the Earth on the afternoon of Friday 15 Feb, 2013. This asteroid will come within 17,200 miles above the Earth (27,680 Km) at 2:26 pm EST. The asteroid will Not hit the Earth or the Moon. 

You would think that an asteroid this close to Earth would be easily visible to the unaided eye but it's not. Unfortunately for our viewing area this event happens in broad day light. The asteroid will not be visible at all from our area even with a telescope. Your best chance of seeing this asteroid will be in Asia, Indonesia, and Australia where it's dark at the proper time and if you have a pair of giant binoculars or a medium size amateur telescope.

The next close approach to Earth by this asteroid will be on 15 Feb 2046. At that time the asteroid will make a similar close approach like it did in 2013. The close approach of 2046 will have the same results as 2013; the asteroid will not hit the Earth.

For more information: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news174.html

Written by Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society

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