Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Close Approach of Asteroid 2012 DA14

Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered by J75 OAM Observatory, La Sagra on images taken on February 23.03, 2012 with a 0.45-m f/2.8 reflector + CCD. 

2012 DA14 has an estimated size of 40 m - 90 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=24.09) and it will have a close approach with Earth at about 0.09 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0002 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 1925 UT on 2013 Feb. 15.

2012 DA14 will pass only ~ 27,700 km (17,200 mi) above the Earth's surface, that is only 0.09 lunar distances or 5.4 Earth radii from the center of the Earth. So close that it will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites (located about 35,800 kilometers (22,200 miles) above the equator, but still well above the vast majority of satellites, including the International Space Station). Due to the extremely close approach, this object will be a very strong radar target at Goldstone where observations are scheduled on 2013 Feb. 16, 18, 19, and 20. Radar images should provide constraints on the size, shape, and rotation state of the object.

Credit: NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office

This asteroid will reach the peak magnitude ~7 on February 15 around 1930 UT and it will be  brighter than 9th magnitude for approximately 3 hours (18h00-21h30 UTC).  At the moment of the close approach 2012 DA14 will move at ~ 2800"/min (slightly less that 1 degree per minute).  This means it will need only 40 seconds to move the apparent diameter of the Moon. While it will be too faint to be seen with the naked eye, 2012 DA14 will be easily visible with a good set of binoculars or a small telescope. It will rise above the horizon in the constellation Virgo, after that it will move in the direction of the north celestial pole, reaching about 10th magnitude approximately two hours later in the Little Dipper. In the morning hours of February 16, it will have crossed half of the sky, moving slowly close to the Pole Star at a magnitude of 13.

Below you can see an animation (10-minute steps) showing the path of 2012 DA14 from 21:00 UT of Feb. 15 to 02:00 UT of Feb. 16 (calculated for Rome, Italy). Next to the asteroid designation, you can see the expected magnitude value. Click on the animation for a bigger version.

The animated gif below made by Geert Barentsen indicate (green areas) parts of the world where the asteroid will be above (and the Sun below) the horizon during the period of its maximum brigthness (18h00-21h30 UTC of Feb. 15). Observers in Australia, Asia and Europe will be best placed. Click on the animation for a bigger version.

While there is no cause for concern ( 2012 DA14 will NOT impact Earth), this is one of the closest approaches recorded and the record close approach for a known object of this size. The table below shows the top 20 closest approaches by NEOs (Near-Earth Objects) sorted by nominal distance (click on the image for a bigger version).

Credit: NASA/JPL

While the table below shows the top 20 closest approaches by NEOs (Near-Earth Objects) sorted  by nominal distance + absolute magnitude H < =26.  (click on the image for a bigger version).

Credit: NASA/JPL

According to JPL website "on average, we expect an object of this size to get this close to the Earth about once every 40 years. An actual Earth collision by an object of this size would be expected much less frequently, about once every 1200 years on average".

We plan to image 2012 DA14 during its close approach so stay tuned!

UPDATE - February 14, 2013 

Below you can see a short animation showing the motion of asteroid 2012 DA14 on Feb. 14, 2013 at around 11:06UT. The asteroid was moving at ~1.15 "/min and its magnitude was ~17. The animation has been assembled using 3 images taken with Faulkes Telescope South  2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD operated by Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network by E. Gomez. Animation by Remanzacco Observatory. Click here or on the animation for a bigger version.

(Credit LCOGT/Faulkes)

UPDATE - February 15, 2013 - 11:00UT

Apparently, at about 09:30 local time, a very big meteor burned up over Chelyabinsk, a city in Russia just east of the Ural mountains, and about 1500 kilometers east of Moscow. A pretty big sonic boom from the fireball, which set off car alarms and shattered windows. There are reports of many people injured (by shattered glass blown out by the shock wave).

According to ESA experts there is NO link between Russia event & asteroid 2012 DA14 close approach.

Here you can see preliminary calculations showing how the 2 events are unrelated.

UPDATE - February 15, 2013 - 20:00UT
We have been able to image 2012 DA14 remotely from Australia on February 15, 2013 at 17:40UT. Exposure time 5 seconds with a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer from Q62 (iTelescope Observatory, Siding Spring). The asteroid was then of magnitude ~9.5 and  moving at ~1140 "/min and less than 2 hours before its close approach of 19:25UT. Click on the image for a bigger version.

Credit: E. Guido & N. Howes

Below you can see a short animation made by using 3x5-second exposures. Click on the thumbnail for a bigger version.

UPDATE - February 15, 2013 - 22:00UT

New image we have obtained remotely from Australia on February 15, 2013 at 18:45UT, just 40 minutes before the close approach. Exposure time 60 seconds with a 0.1m f/5.0 Astrograph + CCD from Q62 (iTelescope Observatory, Siding Spring). The asteroid was then of magnitude ~7.6 and  moving at ~2665 "/min.

Credit: E. Guido & N. Howes

UPDATE - February 16, 2013 - 13:00UT

You can find here a selection (in chronological order) of our images & animations taken before, during and after the close approach.

UPDATE - February 19, 2013 - 19:00UT

An initial sequence of radar images of asteroid 2012 DA14 was obtained on the night of Feb. 15/16, 2013, by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. Each of the 72 frames required 320 seconds of data collection by the Goldstone radar.

The observations were made as the asteroid was moving away from Earth. The asteroid's distance from the radar dish increased from 74,000 miles (120,000 kilometers) to 195,000 miles (314,000 kilometers). The resolution is 13 feet (four meters) per pixel. The images span close to eight hours and clearly show an elongated object undergoing roughly one full rotation.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

by Ernesto Guido & Nick Howes


Anonymous said...

How far was it from the Earth at the time of these images of 2012?

Team said...

The images of the animation were taken on February 14, 2013 at 11UT when the asteroid was roughly 0.0050 Astronomical Unit from Earth (or about 748,000 kilometers).


Anonymous said...

What is UT? Universal Time. In the Midwest closest approach time is? Or in general closest approach time is when today 2-15-13??? So if it is passing, What the heck happened in Russia??

PSB Foto said...

I think some fragments may have hit Chelyabinsk, Russia today...

Anonymous said...

i think the green areas indicate that it will be above the continent Africa ,why there aren't Observers in it ,when it will appear ,can i see it with the naked eye even if it looks like a point in the sky

Sun-техник said...

Parts of asteroid hit a Chelyabinsk city in Russia. http://zyalt.livejournal.com/722930.html

nursebruce said...

Thank you for all the hard work you do. Perhaps one day, because of this research, civilization will be saved from extinction.

Team said...

ESA experts at ESOC confirm *NO* link between meteor incidents in Russia & Asteroid 2012DA14 Earth flyby tonite.



Jagerdave said...

Why is the earths gravity not pulling it in toward us

Unknown said...

Hey there where can I go to find out what times I can veiw it in the uk and where in the sky I should be looking please

Unknown said...

hi emma in what city are you i can give you times and co ordinats

Camilla Wynne said...

What area on earth will it be over when it is at the point of beeing at its closest? Do we know?

Quin said...

Can people in Canada (more specifically Ontario) see anything? If so, when?

David Briggs said...

Managed to image 2012 DA14 at 20:07 from J84. Elevation was 10deg. It is clouding up now and the last image was at 22:00UT.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the updates!