Friday, February 8, 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14

Next week the asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass close to the earth. As you can tell by the name, this asteroid was discovered last year. The orbit is about one year. At least for the time being, it will be passing close to the earth once a year.

The closest approach is on February 15th. It will not collide with the earth, but there is a very small possibility it could collide with one of our communication satellites (this is highly unlikely, but possible).

Observing the asteroid will be tricky, but possible.

For people living in Michigan, it will still be daylight at the closest approach. On the one hand the asteroid is brightest at closest approach (making it easy to see in a telescope), but it will also appear to be moving very fast (making it difficult to track). Once it gets dark in Michigan, the asteroid will be dimmer (but still very bright), and moving slower (but still quite fast and hard to track).

It is too dim to see with the unaided eye, but it will very bright in a telescope.

Since the asteroid will be close to the earth, there is a large parallax. In other words, the exact location of the asteroid will depend on your observing location.  If you use the NASA Horizons interface at you can get an ephemeris for your location. This will show the position of the asteroid in right ascension and declination (RA and DEC) at different. When using this interface make sure you set your observing location correctly, I would suggest generating an ephemeris with time steps of 15 minutes.


  1. May its gonna be bad time for our earth, apart from it on the other hand earth has become dirty with corruption, war, jealous, and disguising crimes so it would be better if few of such folk would be vanished from earth , including me if I am in that list :) :( :D

    1. This asteroid will not collide with earth, so there is no need to worry about that.