Close shave: Massive asteroid poses no threat to Earth

2013-02-13 00:00

ASTEROID 2012 DA14, measuring the length of a football field, will whizz past Earth, narrowly missing the planet, on Friday.

Frikkie de Bruyn, director of cosmology of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, said the asteroid would pass closer to Earth than any other in recent history at around 9.40 pm (SA time).

“It will pass below many of the satellites, but poses no threat to the Earth,” said De Bruyn, quoting a Nasa statement on the asteroid.

According to the South African Astronomical Observatory, the next close shave will be in 2020.

The observatory’s Dr Nicola Loaring said the asteroid would pass the Earth at a distance of about 27 700 km from its surface.

“The asteroid will pass within the Moon’s orbit and it will be closer to Earth than weather and communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit,” Loaring said.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be travelling at about 7,82 kilometres per second relative to Earth, said the Nasa website.

Claire Flanagan, of the Wits Planetarium, said it would be a challenge to see the asteroid.

She said Pietermaritzburg residents with backyard telescopes could try looking for it as it passes using the instructions provided by the planetarium at www.

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