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Guide to Asteroid 2012 DA14 Super Close Approach

Posted by Bruce Betts

04-02-2013 13:46 CST

Topics: explaining science, Planetary Society Projects, planetary defense and Mirror Bees, Shoemaker NEO Grants, near-Earth asteroids

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is coming extremely close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2013, passing closer than our geosynchronous satellites, which include satellite TV and other satellites.  No, it won't hit us, but at 45 meters in diameter, this is the largest asteroid that has come so close since humans have been making great efforts to track such things.  Our Planetary Society members and donors truly made this happen: the discovery of this asteroid was made possible by a camera provided to La Sagra Observatory in Spain through the Planetary Society Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) grant program that allowed detection of a fast moving object missed by the professional surveys. We get to point the world's telescopes at this 2013 close flyby and learn more about this asteroid and its orbit because of you.

Here is information on resources we at The Planetary Society have put together to get you up to speed on this event ranging from video, to radio, to an FAQ:

Here is a 5 minute video to introduce you to 2012 DA14 and its close approach:

Video guide to the February 15, 2013 Close Pass by Asteroid 2012 DA14

Planetary Society Director of Projects Bruce Betts reassures us in this brief and fascinating explanation of what will happen--and what WON'T happen--when this big asteroid comes closer to Earth than many satellites.  For more information after watching this, see our Guide to 2012 DA14 close approach and links therein.

For more information about the asteroid, the close approach, the impact risk, and the discovery of the asteroid, check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

You can read a blog about the discovery from one of the La Sagra observers, Jaime Nomen, as well as find discovery images there.  You can listen to the Feb. 4, 2013 Planetary Radio interview with Jaime, and listen to a 2012 Planetary Radio interview with him.

There is another listing of our resources at our 2012 DA14 web page.

Bill Nye and I did a (one hour) webcast including guest JPL's Paul Chodas, guru of deterimining asteroid orbits.  

You can also check out JPL's detailed pages on NEOs, and JPL's gory details of orbits and orbit simulations.

Thank you for supporting The Planetary Society's efforts to help prevent the only preventable natural disaster.  Though this is a reminder we live in a cosmic shooting gallery, 2012 DA14 won't hit, so we can just enjoy this amazing astronomical event!

See other posts from February 2013


Or read more blog entries about: explaining science, Planetary Society Projects, planetary defense and Mirror Bees, Shoemaker NEO Grants, near-Earth asteroids


John Mills: 02/08/2013 02:36 CST

Will asteroid 2012 DA14 be visible from the NYC metro area?

Gene : 02/08/2013 04:51 CST

Thanks for the info.

Maria Davi: 02/09/2013 01:34 CST

Where The asterooid Came from? It is passing extremely close to earth? Can it be seen in Northern California? thanks Maria Davi

Herman Heyn: 02/09/2013 10:57 CST

In MPH, how fast is it moving?

Joseph Rauscher: 02/09/2013 11:32 CST

Many thanks for providing the excellent information. I hope you are providing this to our elected officials.

John Kelly: 02/09/2013 01:29 CST

Will there be any broadcast of the approach available?

Gerges Emile Melki: 02/10/2013 05:01 CST

Herman, it's speed relative to Earth would be about 17500 MPH.

Jozef Kozar: 02/10/2013 10:16 CST

The asteroid's track is shown here

Craig Cunningham: 02/10/2013 01:35 CST

Hi, Is it possible that we will be able to see it in Canada around Toronto, Ontario area?

James Jones: 02/10/2013 02:00 CST

If it were to hit, where would that be? It would serve to get everyone's attention if you could let folks in the target area know what would happen to them immediately and what the second and third order results would be for the surrounding area and the planet as a whole.

jigme yonten: 02/11/2013 11:09 CST

i hope it will help initiate our more thinking and give us the intel of universe it is separated from.....

Bruce Betts: 02/11/2013 05:27 CST

Thanks for all the comments. It will not be visible from anywhere in the Americas near closest approach. With larger telescopes, it can be viewed from the Americas a half day before and a half day after. Binoculars or telescopes will be needed for any observations even near closest approach, and it will only appear as a point of light (like a star) even in those.

Bob Ware: 02/14/2013 09:14 CST

John Kellys' question: Yes. Go to for the specifics. The start time is 19:00 UTC. The CA (Closest Approach) is 19:25 UTC. James Jones question: Look up the Torino Scale. On it you will see that this would be currently rated at level 1 (non-impact threat). I forgot where I read this but the calculations performed showed the resulting energy dissipation would be equal to twice the A-bomb energy the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in WWII. Depending if it hit land, Indonesia or Australia area (current pass CA) or the ocean would determine the extent to the environmental damage. The shock wave from the impact would create a wider ring of damage than the initial crater (of course) and the returning eject forming the ejecta blanket would cause more extensive damage (land impacts) by secondary cratering. Molten material from the ejecta would start fires as well as additional destruction fires. And the chain of events continues until the energy is dissipated. An interesting note on this pass is that the 2012DA14 orbit has been shortened to 317 days from 387 days. Under the solar system section of NASA.GOV you can search on 2012DA14 and find the orbital

Bob Ware: 02/14/2013 10:18 CST

It's asteroid party time while watching NASA TV if you can't participat: in the shell peanuts, popcorn, chicken nuggets, broken Rice Krispie treats etc.!!!

Miguel Sampedro: 02/15/2013 01:40 CST

Excelent coverage thank you, unfortunately y cant give more than my annual suscription because the money controls in venezuela

Fred Daugert: 02/20/2013 01:30 CST

Hi Bruce: May I remind you about the 'cartoon' on '' that is reminding all of us (that is assuming your brain is distinct from your institution)....(maybe you laugh but if you actually think about it...cry) of the impending crash of Apophis...interestingly enough on the History channel Rusty Swikert is presenting an interesting illustration of the 'keyhole' that IF Apophis actually goes through in 2029 ( a spot near the earth) may cause the asteroid to deflect so when it comes back in 2036 will possibly hit us...his target is a spot in the ocean next to Mexico whereas Billy Meir's site is 'between the Black Sea and the North Sea' which might even be his location in the Swiss Alps.Seeing this illustration by Swiekert makes it abundantly clear that he agrees with the Plejarran and Meir.

Bob Ware: 02/26/2013 06:30 CST

Hi Fred -- Apophis most likely will not hit us (as of Jan 8, 2013 calculations). The calculated chance is less than 1 in 1 million in 2036. For more info. on Apophis go to www.NASA.GOV: .. "... The April 13, 2029, flyby of asteroid Apophis will be one for the record books. On that date, Apophis will become the closest flyby of an asteroid of its size when it comes no closer than 19, 400 miles (31,300 kilometers) above Earth's surface. ..."

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