Today is the day.
Today is the day Earth takes a collective sigh of a relief while it watches Asteroid 2012-DA14, originally thought to be passing so close it would take out some of our satellites, pass us harmlessly by with only 17,200 miles of space separating us. 17, 200 miles seem like a hefty distance, and nothing to worry about, but thinking about that distance and comparing it to something even as small as our galaxy, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Earth pretty much pulled off a Matrix move and the bullet (asteroid) is just barely missing us.
Only discovered less than a year ago, Asteroid 2012-D14 marks a successful operation of watch-and-thank-god-the-meteor-isn’t-threatening-Earth’s-existence-this-time. While this one was certainly one to be worried about, it’s usually ones we don’t see coming, such as the meteor that struck over central Russia today, that NASA and the Near-Earth Object Program are more concerned about.
This asteroid is the size of an Olympic swimming pool, and if it were to strike Earth, it would be on the same scale as the Tunguska blast in 1908 that leveled an entire forest in the Siberia. If that same blast hit a city, its destruction would have been devastating. So, there is no doubt that astronomers will be keeping a close eye on other objects for the next time one decides to Maverick-from-Top-Gun us.
For interesting commentary on the event, I suggest you check out Neil deGrasse Tyson’s twitter, where he gives out fascinating facts like the asteroid is the size of a 15-story building, or my personal favorite:
The asteroid is expected to be closest to us at 2:30 EST.
Unfortunately, but really fortunately, we will not be able to see the asteroid pass by with the naked-eye, but there is, thankfully, streaming available.
- The party has already started at NASA, and they will be streaming until 4PM EST today. The streaming is complete with commentary. NASA Follows Asteroid Flyby on Ustream.
- The Baraket Observatory in Israel will also be streaming at 3PM here.
- At 5PM EST, The Virtual Telescope Project 2.0 in Italy will also be streaming here.
- From 6PM EST to 4AM EST Saturday, the Clay Center Observatory in Conneticut will be streaming the flyby in high definition, and therefore is the one I’m most excited about. Clay Center on Ustream.
- And last, but not least, my favorite streamer of astronomical events, Slooh Space Camera will be streaming at 9PM EST with expert commentary. Watch Slooh here.