Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 DA14 Discovery Article at Planetary.org

The Planetary Society's blog has a really interesting guest article by the discoverer of asteroid 2012 DA14, discussing the details of how they tracked down this NEO:

http://planetary.org/blog/article/00003418/

It reports that the asteroid was travelling at one lunar diameter every three hours at the time of discovery!  That is really speedy, it's amazing that their equipment can track fast-movers like this.  It can be easy to lose an object that moving this fast, since it won't stay in your camera's field of view for very long.  You then have to guess where the asteroid is headed, repoint the telescope in that direction, and hope you guessed correctly.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 DA14 - Don't Panic

The Minor Planet Center has a March 12th article on their blog, titled Clearing Up the FUD on 2012 DA14.  It's a great discussion of the impact risks of 2012 DA14, specifically the fact that there's zero chance of an impact during the 2013 close approach.  Whew!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Asteroid 2012 DA14 Summary

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is a near Earth object (NEO) discovered on February 23rd, 2012.  It's of interest because its orbit will bring it very close to the Earth and Moon on February 15th, 2013.   At closest approach, it is predicted to pass within 0.00018 AUs (Astronomical Units, or the distance between the Earth and the Sun,) closer than our satellites in geosynchronous orbit!  Having an asteroid pass this close to our planet is a rare occurrence.

2012 DA14 is estimated to be 144 feet (44 meters) across, big enough that it may be visible through small telescopes or even binoculars during its 2013 close approach.  Stay tuned for more details on observing this event.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab has the latest orbit information on 2012 DA14 available on their web site.