2012 DA14 (above – click on image for a full size rendition) is a near-Earth asteroid with an estimated diameter of 160 feet (50 meters Derek) and an estimated mass of 187,000 tons (190,000 tonnes Derek). It was discovered on 23rd February, 2012 by the Observatorio Astronómico de La Sagra, Granada in Spain seven days after passing 0.0174 AU 1,620,000 miles (2,600,000 kilometres Derek) from Earth. Calculations show that today the distance between the asteroid and the centre point of Earth will be 0.0002276 AU or 21,160 miles (34,050 kilometres Derek). The asteroid will pass 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometres Derek) from the surface of Earth. This is a record close approach for a known object of this size. It however will too small to see with the naked eye even at its closest approach over the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.
If you have a small (or even a large) telescope of a particularly powerful pair of binoculars you might see it tonight. It will be rising in the eastern sky after 7:30PM and will head north towards The Plough arriving there at around 10:00PM.
British Gazette comment: Whilst there is no risk whatsoever of 2012DA14 hitting the Earth today, there is the certain danger that such asteroids will hit the Earth in the future as they have in the past. The British Gazette would draw the reader’s attention to the former member for Montgomeryshire, Mr Lembit Öpik who very sensibly sought to draw the attention of his Liberal Democrat colleagues to the real and present danger posed by such heavenly rocks.Mr Öpik sought to draw his colleagues attention to what has become known as the Tunguska event. This was an enormously powerful explosion that occurred near (and later struck) the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, at about 7:14 a.m. KRAT (00:14 UT) on 30th June, 1908. The explosion, having the epicentre (60.886°N, 101.894°E), is believed to have been caused by the air burst of a large meteorite or comet fragment at an altitude of 3 to 6 miles (5 to 10 kilometres Derek) above the Earth’s surface. Different studies have yielded widely varying estimates of the object’s size, on the order of 330 feet (100 metres Derek). It is the largest impact event on or near Earth in recorded history. An even larger event caused the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona but that was before recorded history.
What these two events prove is that when these very rare events do occur, the results are catastrophic. Imagine the consequences if the 1908 meteorite had not struck an isolated area of eastern Siberia but London?
So far, Mr Öpik’s efforts (to persuade is Liberal Democrat colleagues) have met no more success than his attempt to retain his seat at the 2010 General Election. Sadly the idiot Ed Davey, successor to the equally idiotic Chris Huhne – now facing being a guest at one of Her Majesty’s penal establishments – are far more concerned about protecting the planet against the life threatening danger of CO2!
Of course, setting up a world wide observation and tracking system for such threats and also the means of deflecting them would cost enormous amounts of money. Money Mr Ed Davey seems to think is far better spent on protecting the Earth from CO2 by building thousands of wind turbines in the middle of the North Sea! Oh, well…. Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad!