Kolkata: Asteroid 2012 DA14 will come closer to Earth on the night of February 15, 2013, at around 12:55 am (technically on February 16), but will not collide with the planet.
The asteroid, a piece of rock, about 148 ft in diameter, will have a close encounter with the earth. Though it will not come and collide with the earth, but it will come closer than some of the geostationary satellites orbiting the earth, MP Birla planetarium director DP Duari said here today.
He said that the asteroid 2012 DA14, a near earth asteroid, is on a close encounter course with earth and at the point of closest approach, its distance will be about 34,100 km from the centre of the planet.
Given the radius of the Earth, it will be about 28,000 km from the earth’s surface, a small distance in terms of astronomical figures, Duari said.
The asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered in an observatory in Spain on February 23, 2012, a week later, when it passed close to earth at a distance of 1.6 million kms. The orbital period of the asteroid was 366 days, and that is the reason, exactly after one year, on February 15, it is coming close to earth much closer than the previous years.
This 1.30-lakh tonne massive rock will undergo a change in its period due to the close encounter with the earth this time. The approach will reduce the orbital period of the asteroid from 366 days to 317 days.
Duari said that calculations by astronomers have shown that there is no possibility of this asteroid actually hitting the earth, but it will pass closer to earth compared to some of the geosynchronous orbits of certain satellites.
The next close approach will be on February 16, 2046 when it will pass no closer than 60,000 km, from the centre of the earth.
The asteroid will not be visible through the naked eye, but as February 15 comes closer, it can be viewed through a medium-size telescope.