Asteroid 2012 DA14 may currently be hurtling in our general direction at a speed of five miles a second, but the good news it won’t be landing on your home, or anyone else’s for that matter.
And that’s a good thing, for this space rock is 150 feet (45 meters) across – perhaps not a giant as far as some asteroids go, but it would certainly ruin your day if it landed nearby.
It is, however, coming pretty close. Astronomers say that this Friday at 2.24pm ET/11.24am PT, 2012 DA14 will pass within 17,200 miles (27,000km) of Earth, coming so near as to cross the path of communication satellites circling the planet at a distance of 22,000 miles (35,400km).
According to NASA, the rock, which was first spotted by a team of Spanish astronomers last year, is too small and passing too far from Earth to be seen with the naked eye. However, there are still a couple of ways you’ll be able to witness it hurtling by our planet. First, you can do it the easy way by jumping online. Bareket Observatory in Israel is offering a live webcast of the asteroid’s fly-by. Find out more on its website here.
Alternatively, if you happen to be located in Eastern Europe, Asia or Australasia and have access to a decent pair of binoculars or moderately powered telescope, you might be able to catch it speeding past – provided the sky is clear, of course. One imagines it’ll be rather tricky trying to spot it on its high speed journey through space, but if you like a challenge, this website gives some useful information about preciseley where in the sky you’ll need to look.
Incidentally, a rock of a similar size has impacted the Earth in recent times, landing in Tunguska, Russia in 1908. Fortunately for humans, it came down in a forested area. Unfortunately for the forested area, everything was pretty much destroyed in an area covering 800 square miles.