Asteroid 2012 DA14

(Photo courtesy of Andrew Fitzpatrick)

Hold on tight, George Mason University. On Feb. 15, the day after Valentine’s Day, asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass extremely close to Earth. With a size of about 150 feet (45 meters), this asteroid is relatively small. Traveling at a speed of 12,500 mph, asteroid 2012 DA14 is flying eight times faster than a rifle bullet.

If it were to crash in to Earth, it would be the equivalent of a 2.4 megaton bomb. The impact wouldn’t be a global catastrophe, but it would destroy a large area. Asteroid 2012 DA14 will come as close as 17,000 miles to Earth, which is really not that far away in space. It will be easily visible around 7:20 pm. I’m sorry to say that it will not be visible from our area though. London will have the closest range to the asteroid.  There will be many cameras and telescopes around the world closely watching as the time approaches. Don’t hesitate to check on my Twitter feed for links. I’m sure I’ll be all over it.

NASA has confirmed that it will not collide with Earth, but we may notice some effects. Over 100 weather and telecommunication satellites will be vulnerable to 2012 DA14. If you miss a text message or don’t get that latest tweet, just think about how much worse it could be. It is estimated that an asteroid only hits Earth every 1,200 years. The last asteroid to make contact with Earth was over 100 years ago, in 1908. That asteroid blew up in the air just above Siberia. If asteroid 2012 DA14 blew up over London, it would take out the entire city. Many asteroids have been discovered since 1908 that may very well pose a threat to Earth in the coming years. With the technology and awareness we have now, I wouldn’t worry. Just sit back and continue to enjoy the beautiful night skies.

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