New asteroid ‘doomsday’ on Feb 15: Click to know how you can see Earth's great escape

Nasa says not to worry, but some scientists feel humans not ready for space-rock collision

It’s another asteroid and another close call.

As you might have guessed, given the number of recent flybys of space objects, these rocks are not small.

On February 15 the space rock that will give the earth another close shave is about half the size of a football field Always on hand, or in space, to put things into perspective is NASA, who on their website confirm: “Small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth on February 15, so close that it will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites.”

NASA says there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth.

It adds: “Nevertheless, the flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close. Here are the facts about the safe flyby of Earth of asteroid 2012 DA14 -- a record close approach for a known object of this size.”

Science writers on the web are not impressed.

Clara Moskowitz writing for space.com quotes scientists who believe the people of Earth are not doing enough to protect their home planet from the threat of an asteroid impact.

The asteroid 2012 DA14 and was discovered last year by amateur astronomers.

"We live in a cosmic shooting gallery and it's a reminder that we need to keep doing our work to find these things and to prevent the only preventable natural disaster, which is asteroid impact," the article quoted Bruce Betts, a planetary scientist at the Planetary Society, the non-profit space research and exploration organization that helped sponsor the discovery of asteroid 2012 DA14, as saying.

To the question: What would happen if DA14 were to impact Earth?, Nasa writes: 

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not impact Earth, but if another asteroid of a size similar to that of 2012 DA14 (about 150 feet across) were to impact Earth, it would release approximately 2.5 megatons of energy in the atmosphere and would be expected to cause regional devastation.

A comparison to the impact potential of an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 could be made to the impact of a near-Earth object that occurred in 1908 in Tuguska, Siberia. Known in the asteroid community as the "Tunguska Event," this impact of an asteroid just slightly smaller than 2012 DA14 (approximately 100 – 130 feet/30-40 meters across) is believed to have flattened about 750 square miles (1,200 square kilometers) of forest in and around the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.

And now possibly to the only question that really interests readers. Can you see the asteroid?

Not without a good pair of binoculars, or even better, a moderately powered telescope.

“During the closest approach, and dependent on local weather, the asteroid will be visible from parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. The asteroid will appear to be moving relatively quickly as it crosses the sky from the south to the north,” says Nasa.

Where & When:

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be closest to Earth on Feb. 15 at approximately 19:24 UTC (2:24 p.m. EST/11:24 a.m. PST). This time may change by a minute or two as the asteroid is tracked on its approach and predictions are refined.

At the time of closest approach, the asteroid will be over the eastern Indian Ocean, off Sumatra -- approx. latitude: -6 deg South. / longitude: 97.5 deg East.

 

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