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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14


At first glance it may seem a more than a coincidence that this meteorite shower has struck Earth just hours before asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to skim past our planet tonight.
Yet astronomers say that a coincidence is all it is.

Dr Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society told MailOnline: 'As I understand it, the Russian meteorite(s) were travelling from east to west whereas 2012 DA14 will be travelling from north to south.
'In any case with a 12 hour time difference, the objects are at least half a million km apart, so unrelated.'
His view was backed up by Dr Phil Plait on his Bad Astronomy blog for Slate  and the European Space Agency.
The ESA wrote on Twitter (@esaoperations): 'ESA experts at #ESOC confirm *no* link between #meteor incidents in #Russia & #Asteroid #2012DA14 Earth flyby tonite #SSA #NEO.'

Dr Massey added: 'So, although the incident in Russia is dramatic and the reports of injuries are unprecedented and awful - there are very few historic reports of people being hurt as a result of meteorites - it doesn’t seem to be at all relevant to tonight’s close asteroid flyby.'

What will happen tonight?
Just before 7.30pm today, a 150ft wide chunk of space rock will whizz past us in the closest shave since records began.
If it hit the planet, it could wipe out a city the size of London and do as much damage as 1,000 of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima.
Nasa has stressed that ‘no Earth impact is possible’ – but scientists say there is a small chance that TV signals may be affected.
The asteroid will cut through the orbit of some satellites used for weather forecasting and for satellite phones and television.
Mobile phones won’t be affected as they rely on land-based masts and cables.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered last year by a Spanish dentist turned amateur astronomer and has been closely tracked ever since.
Hurtling through space at speeds of five miles a second, eight times as fast as a speeding bullet, it will come within 17,000 miles of Earth at 7.24pm tomorrow.( 15feb 2013)
Astronomy expert Daniel Brown, of Nottingham Trent University, said: ‘In astronomical terms, that’s very close.’
Although the asteroid won’t be visible with the naked eye, it should be possible to see it with binoculars.

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