On February 15, tomorrow, an asteroid named 2012 DA14 will fly within several thousand miles of the surface of the Earth. At its closest approach the asteroid will come within 17,200 miles of the Earth’s surface – a harrowingly close miss that comes well within the ring of man-made geosynchronous satellites that orbit the Earth. The flyby will set a record for closest approach by an object of DA14’s size.
Though researchers have determined there is no danger posed by the object, the event will be a spectacle for astronomers around the world. Though the asteroid won’t be bright enough to see with the naked eye, those with a telescope or even a good pair of binoculars will be able to spot it.
For those who can’t observe the asteroid on their own, NASA announced this week that it will be live-streaming coverage of the object’s approach. The broadcast will provide commentary from scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and real-time animation to demonstrate exactly where the asteroid is. A Live view of the asteroid itself will also be featured, assuming the weather over observatories isn’t cloudy.
The half-hour live-stream will begin tomorrow at 2 pm EST, and can be seen on NASA TV or on the JPL Ustream page. The JPL Ustream will also begin showing footage of the asteroid from Australian and European observatories starting at 12 pm EST. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will stream footage of the asteroid from one of its telescopes starting at 9 pm EST, and researchers there will be taking questions via Twitter.
(Image courtesy LCOGT/Faulkes)