An asteroid, known as 2012 DA14, is expected to pass close to Earth on February 15, 2013. It has been estimated that 2012 DA14 will be as close as 27,000 km (17,000 miles) from Earth, which is approximately 1/14 the distance of the Moon. Although its size has not been well determined, it is believed that 2012 DA14 is about 45 meters (148 ft.) in diameter. Asteroid 2012 DA14 will come closer than the satellites orbiting the Earth at the geosynchronous orbital ring situated at approximately 35.800 km (22,000 miles) above the equator.
Asteroids are small rocky bodies found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in a region known as the Asteroid bet (main belt). In the main belt, more than two hundred asteroids have diameters of over one hundred km (62 miles), while more than 1.5 million possess diameters larger than 1 km (0.62 miles). Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are a type of asteroids the orbits of which come close to the Earth’s orbit. Asteroid 2012 DA14, which is a NEA, will pass within 3.2 Earth radii off the surface of the Earth on February 15, 2013.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered by the LaSagra observatory in southern Spain early in 2012. The asteroid is thought to be 45 meters (148 ft.) in diameter. The satellite will pass inside the synchronous satellite ring which is located at approximately 35,800 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth’s equator. 2012DA14’s orbit around the Sun only allows it to come no closer than 3.2 Earth´s radii (6,420 km, 3980 miles). Its closest approach will occur at about 19:26 UTC.
The orbit of 2012DA14, like the orbit of the Earth, is not circular, but elliptical. It is slightly tilted with respect to the Earth’s orbital path. Its path keeps it away from the Earth; however, twice a year, its path crosses Earth´s orbit. The last time it came close to Earth’s orbit was on February 16, 2012 when it approached the Earth at 2.5 million km (1.5 million miles) of distance, which is equivalent to six times the distance of the Moon.
Asteroid 2012DA14 won’t produce any disturbances on Earth. It’ll just pass by as million of asteroids have done throughout Earth’s history. The asteroid will be appreciated by amateur, as well as experienced, night sky observers. The asteroid will travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky, approaching its closest distance to Earth at about 19:26 UTC. Four minutes after its closest approach, it will go into the Earth’s shadow for approximately 18 minutes after which it will reappear, and will fade into brightness into the northern morning sky.