Asteroid 2012 DA14 to pass near Earth on Friday

On Friday, February 15, an asteroid named 2012 DA14 will pass just 17,000 miles from the Earth's surface.

At that distance it will pass between the Earth and our geosynchronous satellites.  This asteroid, while passing so close, poses no threat to the planet, and is not expected to disrupt any communications.

This is not the first time this asteroid has come close to us.  It was discovered in February 2012 by an observatory in Spain. Last year it passed us at a comfortable 1.6 million miles. The reason it is back and closer is that it has an Earth-like orbit around the sun. It takes 366 days to orbit the sun in a slightly more elliptical orbit.

After this year, because of the Earth's gravity, the orbit will be reduced to just under 320 days. While the changes in its new orbit are not yet completely known, scientists know enough to be able to rule out any problems for the near future. The next projected close pass is not until 2046 and will be around 1 million miles distant.

To have any chance to see it on Friday, you must be in Asia, Eastern Europe, or Australia, and have a telescope or a very good pair of binoculars.

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