This is the day (Friday) that the asteroid we blogged about earlier will be passing the earth closer than the orbit of many of our satellites. The rock, the size of half a football field travelling 8 times the speed of a rifle bullet, will be visible from Europe, much of Asia, and Australia, but not the United States.
From the London Guardian:
Sky watchers will have the chance to see an asteroid big enough to destroy London narrowly miss the Earth on Friday.
Scientists are sure there is no chance of the 150ft-wide space rock hitting the planet. But it could come as close as 17,200 miles – placing it within the orbits of more than 100 telecommunication and weather satellites.
The asteroid, 2012 DA14, has been closely tracked since its discovery by a Spanish observatory a year ago. It is predicted to reach its nearest point to Earth at around 7.30pm GMT on Friday [that is, 2:30 p.m. ET].
Given clear skies, it should be possible to track the rock climbing in the north-eastern sky from anywhere in the UK.
DA14 will take two hours to travel between the constellations of Leo and the Plough from 8pm GMT.
Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: “It will be possible to see it if you know where to look, but just waving your binoculars in the right general direction isn’t going to work.
“The asteroid will be a faint dot of light moving at a steady rate between the stars. It’ll be thousands of times fainter than Jupiter and 250 times fainter than the stars of the Plough. . . .
“It’s not easy, but you will have the thrill of knowing you are seeing a little object in space the size of an office block.”
DA14 will climb steeply from a point just below Leo, growing fainter as it travels across the sky. At the point it reaches the handle of the Plough, it will be 35 degrees above the horizon – equivalent to three stacked fists an arm’s length away.
DA14 belongs to a dangerous family of near-Earth objects (NEOs) that are small enough to be missed but large enough to cause serious damage.
It was detected in February last year by La Sagra Observatory in southern Spain as it fell under the spotlight of the Sun’s rays.
Travelling at between 12,427mph (20,000kph) and 18,641mph (30,000kph) – around five miles (8km) a second, or eight times the speed of a rifle bullet – the asteroid will fly inside the orbits of high geostationary satellites some 22,000 miles (35,406km) above the Earth.
You can watch it here.