Chart of 2012 DA14's path through the northern skies (Image: B. Dodson)
Chart of 2012 DA14's path through the southern skies (Image: B. Dodson)
The path of 2012 DA14's close pass past the Earth on Feb. 15, 2013 (Image: NASA)
An asteroid passing close to Earth next month will provide stargazers with a rare viewing opportunity (Image: Shutterstock)
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 40 meters (131 ft) in size, has a mass of 130,000 tons, is traveling relative to the Earth at a speed of some 6.3 km/s (14,100 mph) ... and will miss us by less than 32,000 km (20,000 miles) on February 15. If it did hit the Earth, the result would be a huge explosion yielding about 2.5 megatons, but Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not hit our planet in 2013, and probably never will. Despite the lack of a sensational scenario, this close call still warrants our attention – it will allow astronomers to learn a good deal about asteroids, and represents one of the few chances for ordinary folks to see a asteroid pass really close to Earth.
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