Asteroid to have a close brush with earth Feb
The near earth asteroid, 2012 DA14, about 148 metre in diameter,
is on a close encounter course with the planet, and will come
closest at around 12.55 a.m. Feb 16, according to Debiposad Duari,
director, Research and Academic M.P. Birla Institute of
scientists will join their counterparts globally for a rare
celestial event scheduled for the night of Feb 15-16 -- the
passing of an asteroid very close to Earth, around 28,000 km away,
and visible with ordinary binoculars, a Mumbai astro-scientist
said here Monday.
The asteroid, named 2012 DA14, measuring an estimated 44 metres in
diameter and up to 75 metres long, and weighing around 130,000
tonnes was discovered by an observatory in Spain Feb 22, 2012.
It will travel at a dizzying speed of a little over six km per
second, or around 22,000 kmph, leaving a blazing trail behind it,
as it shoots past in a south-north direction above Earth, said
Bharat Adur, Director, Akash Ganga Centre for Astronomy (AGCA),
"At its closest point, it will be within the orbit of the moon and
closer than some high-orbiting geosynchronous communications
satellites. It will be a unique opportunity for observation and
study the asteroid which will be the closest to approach Earth,
without recent precedents," Adur told IANS.
2012 DA14 will cross the Earth's orbit shortly after midnight of
Feb 15-16 at an average distance of around 28,000 km and will be
visible with ordinary binoculars in a clear dark sky, he said.
Amateurs and commoners can also watch the flyby online, realtime,
at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/clay-center-observatory] and
"There is no danger of it coming closer to Earth or even colliding
with it, nor is there any co-relation with the ongoing Maha Kumbh
Mela and the asteriod's arrival," Adur chuckled.
However, he added that if it would have indeed collided, it could
have caused an earthquake measuring at least four on the Richter
scale, impacting a large vicinity and enough to flatten a city.
As for the origins of this asteroid, classified as an 'Apollo type
asteriod' Near Earth Object, Adur said it will come within the
asteroid field between Earth and Mars.
Usually cold and hard rocks, asteriods are believed to be
celestial bodies which never became planets and continue to
criss-cross the solar system and even beyond at regular intervals.
The 2012 DA14 will again be visible in 2020 and even at that time,
it will be zooming past at a very safe distance from Earth, with
the chance of a collision as remote as one in 83,000, according to
a NASA study, Adur said.