At 11:24 a.m. this Friday, Feb. 15, a record-setting asteroid — designated 2012 DA14 — will fly past the Earth at a distance of 17,200 miles.
There is no danger of a collision. Instead, this flyby presents a unique scientific opportunity for astronomers worldwide to observe the asteroid, according to Jim Todd with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Unfortunately, here on the West Coast we won’t be able to see it, thanks to the daylight flyby below the horizon, Todd said. Sections of Europe, Africa and Asia will be able to observe the flyby, however.
And anyone can watch it online at the Slooh space camera website, http://events.slooh.com.
The space rock is about 165 feet wide, which is approximately the size of OMSI’s submarine, the USS Blueback. At the time of the flyby, the asteroid will be traveling at 17,450 miles per hour — 4.8 miles per second relative to Earth.
According to NASA, this is the closest predicted flyby of a large object since sky surveys began in the 1990s.
DA14 is very small, and its apparent magnitude is expected to peak at about only 7.4, too dim to be viewed by the naked eye. Watchers will need a good pair of binoculars or a moderately powered telescope.
Asteroid 2012 Da14 will again visit Earth in 2020 and, according to NASA, there’s no chance of that pass impacting Earth, either.