Asteroid 2012 DA14 in record-breaking Earth pass

 

Nasa coverage of the moment the asteroid passed closest to Earth

Related Stories

An asteroid as large as an Olympic swimming pool has raced past the Earth at a distance of just 27,700km (17,200mi) - the closest ever predicted for an object of that size.

It passed far closer even than the geosynchronous satellites that orbit the Earth, but there was no risk of impacts or collisions.

Its closest approach was at 19:25 GMT.

For regions in darkness, it should have remained visible until about midnight through good binoculars or a telescope.

The asteroid's arrival was preceded by a damaging meteor event in Russia on Friday - but indications from the meteor's path suggest that the two events are entirely unrelated - just a "cosmic coincidence", as Alan Fitzsimmons of Queens University Belfast told BBC News.

Asteroid path infographic

The asteroid orbits the Sun in 368 days - a period similar to Earth's year - but it does not orbit in the same plane as the Earth.

As it passes - at 7.8km/s (17,450 mi/hr) - it will come from "under" the Earth and return back toward the Sun from "above".

It passed directly over the eastern Indian Ocean, making for the best viewing in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia.

But keen viewers everywhere used several live streams of the event on the internet, including a feed from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Nasa.

2012 DA14 was first spotted in February 2012 by astronomers at the La Sagra Sky Survey in Spain - once a fairly small-scale, amateur effort to discover and track asteroids that has in recent years become a significant contributor to our knowledge of these "near-Earth objects".

They caught sight of the asteroid after its last pass, at a far greater distance.

Asteroid size infographic

From their observations, they were able to calculate the asteroid's future and past paths and predict Friday's near-miss - which will be the closest the object comes for at least 30 years.

Prof Fitzsimmons said that it is a scientific opportunity not to be missed.

"When asteroids come this close, it's very important to try to learn about them - it's become so bright, so it's so easy to study," he told BBC News.

"We get an additional insight into these small objects, which are the most likely impactors on Earth."

The notion that it is these smaller, tens-to-hundreds of metres-sized objects that pose the greatest potential threat to Earth is explored in the BBC feature article Can we know about every asteroid? .

The asteroid was only visible from some regions on Earth. Click through these maps produced by Dr Geert Barentsen, of the University of Hertfordshire, to see when the asteroid was visible in different areas:

For skywatchers in the UK, the graphic below indicates roughly where in the northern sky to try to spot 2012 DA14.

Asteroid path skymap
 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 956.

    The closest ever? Do you mean the past 50 years or so since humans could measure such things? Sensationalist rubbish.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 955.

    ==945. Eamonn_Shute
    I spent 40 minutes tracking it with my 6" telescope as it glided past the stars. ===

    I wish I could afford a telecsope that glided past the stars - - Hubble?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 954.

    Our name is on one of these mothers, it's moving in the void at the moment, it will hit the Earth one day, maybe not for tens of thousands of years........ but Mankind will go the way of the Dinosaurs.

    If we make it that far of course......which is highly unlikely.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 953.

    Looking at the diagram above if that person runs about 30 or 40 feet to the right they should be ok when the asteroid topples onto their house, always good to know these survival techniques.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 952.

    @727.

    This isn't science. This is minor research.

    In the same way that searching for 'Earth clones' millions of miles away is also a complete waste of time.

    Now if we developed the technology to travel 1 light year faster than the current 2700 years required at current maximum speed travel technology then this would be a real scientific breakthrough. Finding planets though, just isn't notable.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 951.

    @578 No chance of this hitting us. Next time round its orbit will be a lot further away.
    @294 Agree. Live in a rural area and see clearly, we don't have street lights.
    @900 Nothing to do with gigital age, whatever that is. Sky At Night showed several asteroids in close approach way back in the 1960s.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 950.

    949.
    CURTAINS 2012

    Sorry, 'research aircraft', as you have described them, are not aimless lumps of rock, travelling at 45,000 mph, they are controlled, have engines, and can quite easily avoid planetary collisions, by adjusting their orbits using sophisticated navigation computers, and guess what, when they are done, they come in to land!!!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 949.

    943.Phil Chadwick
    6 Minutes ago
    But, every time it passes close to us, the gravity of Earth 'bends' it's orbit, just a tad.

    In other words, it's likely we are in it's sights, so be prepared..

    +++

    That doesn't auatmatically mean that it will impact on Earth, Gravity of other planets has been used to assit the flight of research craft.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 948.

    Looks like life goes on, BAH work Monday!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 947.

    @ColadadelCid
    Yeah, I agree with you, there is one place, well, actually three, that if a big mother of an Asteroid was incoming, I would love it to hit... Border region of Afghanistan/Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran. Then we could save loads of money by dismantling all our Nuclear arms. Oh... Hang on, I forgot about the new Putinised Soviet Russia didn't I. Remember Kenny Everett? He was right!!!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 946.

    945. Eamonn_Shute
    I spent 40 minutes tracking it with my 6" telescope as it glided past the stars. The motion was very conspicuous, it only took a minute or so to cross the field of view.

    Earlier I saw the ISS pass within 0.1 degrees of Jupiter. What a night!
    -------------------------
    Meanwhile, I was out having a few beers, surrounded by beautiful women. What a night!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 945.

    I spent 40 minutes tracking it with my 6" telescope as it glided past the stars. The motion was very conspicuous, it only took a minute or so to cross the field of view.

    Earlier I saw the ISS pass within 0.1 degrees of Jupiter. What a night!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 944.

    Re: Post 922. by L Cuinu: "I agree about the light pollution, why on earth wasn't it rated? Not only the scourge of amatuer astrologers but figure this...ask some children if they've ever seen the Milky Way, sad very very sad"

    Astrologers? Sigh - I thought the internet was supposed to bring enlightenment!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 943.

    This Asteroid, although small, is sufficient in size to do an extreme amount of damage, should it actually impact this Planet.

    And it could do just that. It's orbit is similar to that of our own, around the Sun in an elliptical fashion. But, every time it passes close to us, the gravity of Earth 'bends' it's orbit, just a tad.

    In other words, it's likely we are in it's sights, so be prepared..

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 942.

    No Worries Bruce Willis was alerted to the situation !!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 941.

    932.tony
    I would trust an astrologist more than a mathematician/astronomer. Press the wrong button on a calculator - Ooops...
    ------
    Clearly you have no understanding whatsoever of the inner workings of modern science. Before something is regarded as scientific fact, it has to go through a full and rigorous process of experimental repetition, peer reviewing, redrafting and recalculation.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 940.

    There's a place on earth that I wouldn't mind such an asteroid but bigger hitting it would immediately put an end to much strife on the planet once and for all time but that's my secret. Oh well you can always hope.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 939.

    932.tony
    13 Minutes ago
    917. Caroline


    ** I think you mean astronomers and really, they will not have done their sums wrong !

    ============
    Sorry - I would trust an astrologist more than a mathematician/astronomer. Press the wrong button on a calculator - Ooops...

    +++

    She needs only to confine her use of the calculator to the days that the stars say are not "wrong button" days.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 938.

    Re: Post 303 by samb-1488: "SOrry, i'm not buying the russian asteroid is unrelated to this one coming tonight.
    CLEARLY THEY ARE RELATED OTHERWISE WHY IS THERE 2 REACHING EARTH AT THE SAME TIME.
    THIS SCIENTIST IS CLEARLY THICK. EVEN MY CHILD HAS WORKED OUT THEY ARE RELATED!!"

    Then I'm sorry to say that your child is hard of understanding too.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 937.

    927.Martin Q Blank
    14 Minutes ago
    we should fund things that don't agree with the party line. All we do is spend billions trying to confirm consensus.

    +++

    Duplication of the Cold Fusion Experiment that didn't follow the party line, showed that the concensus that it was wrong was correct. Good science or bad science.?

 

Page 1 of 48

 

More Science & Environment stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.