The Asteroid That Is Coming Really Close To Earth

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In February, Asteroid 2012 DA 14 will come so close to earth that it will be nearer to our planet than many satellites are. This asteroid, which really should get a new name, is about half the size of a football field. Its orbit is similar to that of the Earth itself, in size and shape, but at an angle to the Earth’s plane, so it’s like the asteroid and the earth are driving in circles on two oval tracks that intersect at two points but there is no red light.

Asteroid 2012 DA 14 was discovered with gear provided to an observatory with a grant from the Planetary Society. Which makes me want to join the Planetary Society.

This asteroid is not going to hit the earth now or during any of the next few decades, but eventually it may well do so. We need to keep an eye on it.

The closest approach will be on Feb 15th, when it will be a mere 27,330 kilometers from the surface of the earth. You would be able to see it with binoculars or a telescope. You’ll be able to spot it, conditions and optics permitting, in Europe, Asia and Africa.

(For reference, the International Space Station skims at about 350 kilometers; a geostationary orbit is 35,786 kilometers.)

The following video from the Interplanetary Society has all the details:

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32 thoughts on “The Asteroid That Is Coming Really Close To Earth

  1. Because the two trajectories intersect at two points would that not mean that we come relatively close twice a year? Not as close as this time but close enough that I find it surprising that someone has not spotted this astroid sometime in the last half century. That’s a hundred passes. Some of them should have been spotted. At least once. But then I guess you have to be looking in the right direction.

    We can predict how close it will come in the future so we can also predict how close it has come in the past. It would be interesting to know when we have had close calls.

  2. Liath, I would be very interested in all of that, and I hope someone does that as a research project. The thing is, it is small and dark, so that could be a factor.

    Also, it may not be the case that it has the same orbit. It may have a more elliptical and thus longer orbit, which would make it on a different time schedule to meet those spots than the earth. So, we may encounter each other on a precession (which may or may not be the correct word) cycle that is very long. I’m going to be asking around about this.

  3. Thank you for replying Greg. Please post any information you come up with from asking around. Isn’t it amazing that the Earth, this astroid, and the Moon have been dancing around each other for perhaps millions and millions or even billions of years and never really met up? The universe and our solar system is such a wonderful, no, absolutely marvelous place. I’ll take two sir, please and thank you.

  4. I believe that I read an article in the newspaper about this in 2007 or 2008. I remember discussing it with my manager. It said that there was an asteroid that would come extremely close to earth in 2013. My question is, could these large earth quakes affect the earth trajectory thus either putting us in or taking us out of harms way?

  5. Hi GMom, The Earth is really, really, stable. Well, we do wobble a bit over the centuries but you’d never notice it unless you lived a very long time and were paying attention. Any earthquake powerful enough to change our orbit would be so devastating that we would no longer be concerned out a little astroid impact. There was one awhile back that tilted the planet a bit more. I’m busy having a senior moment so I don’t remember which one.

    I’m curious about the article you read in 2007-8. Do I understand you correctly that the article was refering to this particular astroid or was it another one?

  6. From wiki

    The 2013 close approach to Earth will reduce the orbital period of 2012 DA14 from 368 days to 317 days.[2][10] The close approach to Earth will perturb the asteroid from the Apollo class to the Aten class of near-Earth asteroids.[2] The next notable close approach to Earth will be on 15 February 2046 when the asteroid will pass no closer than 0.01 AU (1,500,000 km; 930,000 mi) from the center-point of Earth.[3]

    The asteroid will not impact Earth on February 15, 2013.[8] The uncertainty region of 2012 DA14 during planetary encounters is well determined through 2134.[3]
    2012 DA14 was removed from the Sentry Risk Table on 7 February 2013.[11] There is no risk of impact in the next hundred years.[12]
    It is estimated that there are more than a million near-Earth asteroids smaller than 100 meters.[13]
    If it were to hit Earth in the distant future, it is estimated that it would enter the atmosphere at 12.7 km/s,[4] and produce an air burst with the equivalent of 2.4 megatons of TNT[4] at an altitude of roughly 10 kilometers (33,000 ft).[14] The Tunguska event has been estimated at 3?20 megatons.[15] Asteroids about 50 meters in diameter are expected to impact Earth once every 1200 years or so.[16] Such an impact could be a city-killer,[12] as asteroids larger than 35 meters across can pose a threat to a town or city.[17]

  7. Actually, there us a good chance that this passage near earth will shift the. Orbit to one where it goes away forever

  8. According to Yeomans, who leads the Near-Earth Object Program for NASA, “The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact.” We can deflect asteroids because their orbits can be observed and further predicted, so we will have decades or more of warning. To stop an asteroid, a possibility could be to have a nuclear explosive detonated nearby, although the details -like the possibility of secondary fragments, optimal yield, and distance and design- would need more looking into. The more serious problem for Earth is the comet threat. Comets on collision course are more dangerous because they are unlikely to be detected earlier than a year in advance. It is harder to deflect a comet because a much larger push would be necessary to move it in a year (or less). It would most likely take less force to move an asteroid with decades of warning. Comets generally move faster, so a larger push would be required to achieve the same angular deflection.

  9. This is very interesting!! It is crazy to think that something half the size of a football field will be grazing by earths surface. When converted 27,330 kilometers is the same as 16,985.71 miles which yes may some far but in all reality that is so close to earths surface! It is amazing to think about how to things in motion in two opposite paths that have crossing intersections have yet to collide. I also find it incredible that science can calculate and figure up about when they will collide. I don’t know about anyone else but i am thankful for how far our technology and scientist have come!

  10. The DA 14 is said to be the largest and closest asteroid to date, to come towards earth and not hit us. There is a great article on and it tells us what we should know about this asteroid and some common questions people have about this crazy event that is happening Friday. If you don’t feel like reading the article, it goes into some minor but important details on how big this asteroid is, what would happen if it where to collide with earth and also has a detailed video of the trajectory of the asteroid and how close it really is going to be. What I found most interesting while researching and reading about this event is that this asteroid is going to be about 8,000 km (when converted, it is about 5,000 miles ) closer to earth then our satellites we having orbiting around us that give us our cable! For me, that is a little too close for comfort! So if your are interested in peeking a glimpse at a historical event, get out your telescopes because you will not be able to see this asteroid with the naked eye.

  11. it might prove to be quite interesting if some space program could send some type of drone or something that could try to study it from a close distance while the asteroid is so near to the earth, maybe even put a camera on it.

  12. With the Earth constantly orbiting around and thus changing direction in its orbit as it circles the sun, the laws of physics say that the Earth is constantly accelerating. Then thus is the same for the asteroid orbiting around the Earth and that it is constantly accelerating too. So if they collide would the impact be different than the damage of the asteroid if it would impact Earth now? A NASA article says that the asteroid is about half the size of a football field. The article also said that asteroids the size of 2012 AD-14 impacts Earth every 1,100 years but due to math and physics, they predict that this asteroid will not hit Earth but would break up in the atmosphere if it came too close. I find it really cool how physics, math, and astronomy can come together to predict a projectile hundreds of thousands of miles away from Earth.

  13. I feel we as people put ourselves in our terrible sitatuions when it comes to asteroids. We have no way to defend ourselves from them. We could use the “Armagedon” technique but the debris and shards would cause trouble and large problems.Also, it may not be the case that it has the same orbit. It may have a more elliptical and thus longer orbit, which would make it on a different time schedule to meet those spots than the earth. We also don’t know what else could be out there. What happens if another asteroid catches another gravational field ad projects itself towards Earth. We can’t control what they do. We need a plan for when it happens.

  14. I feel knowing that there is an asteroid coming this way towards Earth is a little frighting. However, knowing it will not hit into to Earth is relieving. Reading and listening to this video above has made me more aware that these asteroids come close to Earth relatively frequently. I hope in the future if there does come a day where a asteroid comes and may potentially hit Earth we can take the proper precautionary actions to prevent serious damage.

  15. This whole asteroid situations brings up some very good food for thought. It is quite amazing that by using acceleration, the effects of gravity, mass, and prior knowledge we can map out the trajectory of the asteroid. However what is even more amazing is the importance this event will have on human kind in the future far after we did. There is a good chance that some time far in the future humans will have to deal with with a real asteroid threatening our existence. Data from events like this may prove vital to the existence of our race and that is just so cool to think about. Who knows maybe we are witnessing an even that will save us thousands of years from now.

  16. I think this was a very interesting article and find! The fact that something this close to our planet hasn’t been spotted until recently is very intriguing. However, I would think that perhaps there would be 2 possible instances in which it would collide with our planet. If it’s constantly orbiting, shouldn’t there be two options for when it might make contact close enough to be sucked into our atmosphere? It’s also interesting to think of the consequences of the asteroid colliding with one of our satellites at some point. We can only hope if it does make contact with the earth that, like the Tunguska asteroid in 1908 it lands in a very scarcely populated area.

  17. The fact that the 2012 DA 14 asteroid is going to come so close to Earth is really interesting. It’s also good to know it won’t hit Earth any time soon! What really fascinates me is how scientists can not only track asteroids and other objects in space, but they can predict where they will be several years in the future. I never realized how much physics was involved in that. This information is extremely vital to us on Earth. I do agree that when this asteroid or another one in the future does take a path to hit the Earth that we need to be prepared for it. However, it seems that we already have the resources to figure out when and where an asteroid will hit. I also agree with the video that we need to keep an eye on this asteroid just in case!

  18. I think this was very interesting to read. I hope that they’re right and it doesn’t hit Earth anytime soon!

  19. When I think of an asteroid I think that it will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. To me it is strange that the asteroid is orbiting at and angle to the Earths plan. It’s scary to think that some day it will hit Earth but then again I won’t be around decades later when it does. Physics plays a major roll in determining then the asteroid will hit, how hard it will and how much damage will be done. Hopefully buy this time they will know the exact location on there it will hit and be able to clear it out so that not permanent damage is done and also that there is no casualties.

  20. I read that there is a 0.00034% risk that the asteroid will come into contact with the Earth between 2080 and 2109. Tracking asteroids is an important endeavor seeing as this one is going to come so close to reaching us. I’m thankful that we have the technology to do this.

  21. Conversations of asteroid 2012 DA 14 seem to be popping up everywhere. Some sources say the asteroid will eventually strike the Earth, some sources say that it will never hit the Earth. The article here has an interview with Donald Yeomans, the head of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He informs us that Earth will actually bump the asteroid into a safer orbit on Friday, than it has been in the past. He also informs us that they’ve been monitoring this asteroid for years. Although this particular asteroid (and it’s proximity to Earth) has sparked many new “doomsday” conversations I do not believe it is anything to fret about. If NASA isn’t worried about it, why should we? However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be keeping an eye out for it. The link to the article above also has instructions & suggestions if you’re planning on making an event of it. Make sure to have binoculars or a small telescope as we will be unable to see it with the naked eye.

  22. So, is this asteroid more likely to come towards us or be shifted away from us in future years? It seems that I have read both ideas. It is quite neat to know how close this asteroid is going to be in a few days, Thank you Kyle for putting that in perspective much better. Also, I can say that it actually makes me quite sad to know that as close as it shall be to us, I won’t get the chance to see it because I am in the wrong region of Earth. If someone could help me with an answer to my original question, I would really appreciate it.

  23. This 2012 DA 14 asteroid brings a new perspective to the thought that Earth is completely safe from outside objects. The fact that this asteroid comes very close to the Earth, closer than the space station and satellites, says a lot about Earth and its susceptibility to foreign objects. Possibly one day an asteroid could have a course for Earth and hit it, but would we be able to stop it? The 2012 DA 14 asteroid lets us study foreign objects more closely and prepare us for a possible collision someday. If it wasn’t for the Spain research crew and its support, they would have never spotted the asteroid and we wouldnt’ be able to observe it on February 15, 2013.

  24. I am glad that is asteroid 2012 DA 14 is not going to hit the Earth anytime soon. However, it is a little too close for comfort for me and I am sure many others feel the same way. I think that it is going to be very important to keep an eye on this. The last thing we need is for people to get worried that this could end their life. I believe that it will be important for researchers to stay in contact with this asteroid and maybe come up with a plan to fix this problem.

  25. According to NASA Asteroid DA14 will not enter out atmosphere, but will enter our belt of satellites in geostationary orbit (there is a very very slim chance it will hit any of our satellites). DA 14 will be a distance from Earth of only about one-tenth the distance between Earth and moon. Hypothetically speaking, if the asteroid did strike Earth “it would release approximately 2.5 megatons of energy in the atmosphere and would be expected to cause regional devastation. Luckily, we know this will not happen. Scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office in Pasadena, Calif. estimate that an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 flies this close every 40 years on average and that one will impact Earth, on average, about once in every 1,200 years. The asteroid will be over the Indian Ocean when it makes its quick passing of the Earth.

  26. There is constant motion of millions of objects in the cosmos. Some of these objects being very large planets or asteroids such as the 2012 DA 14. The orbits of the Earth and this asteroid crossing paths for such a long time shows us the reality that natural disasters are very capable of happening through an asteroid hitting the Earth. The studies of the trajectory of these two orbits have made us be able to predict when the asteroid will be the closest to the Earth, and will continue to reveal other important details about 2012 DA 14.

  27. If we know the theoretical mass of the object, the trajectory and the acceleration… wouldn’t it be possible to take a defensive stance against this asteroid? Unless we want it to strike earth at some point in the future. If Newtons laws are applied would it not be possible to destroy if not alter the asteroids path by creating an opposite but equal force to oppose this asteroid? I though knowing the stated information above a physicist would be able to calculate the asteroid’s force thereby also being able to calculate a force to repel it away from earth. That is, unless everyone wants it to hit the earth.

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