An asteroid flyby next week will come so close to earth next week that it will be visible with binoculars and small telescopes.
According to Wired, the asteroid flyby will come so close to earth that it will skim by TV and communication satellites. Astronomers don’t believe that the asteroid, which is about 50 meters wide, has any chance of making contact with earth but it is being closely watched by NASA since it is a Near-earth Object.
The agency said in a statement:
“NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid’s path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth … Nevertheless, the flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.”
The asteroid, known as 2012 DA14. will make pass by earth on February 15. At it’s closest point, the asteroid will be about 17,000 miles above the earth’s surface. This is about 1 tenth of the distance between the earth and the moon.
NASA says that there is no chance that the asteroid will make contact with earth. The agency did say, however, that an asteroid of a slightly smaller size hit earth in 1908. The “Tunguska Event” involved an asteroid about 40 meters wide and flattened about 750 square miles in Tuguska, Siberia.
Here’s a video about the asteroid flyby next week.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be too dim to see with the naked eye but skywatchers should be able to catch a glimpse of the asteroid with small telescopes or even binoculars. NASA says that if the weather cooperates, skywatchers in Europe, Africa and Asia will be able to watch the asteroid flyby earth on February 15.