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The greatest show nobody on Earth can see - The Galveston County Daily News : Space

September 15, 2014

The greatest show nobody on Earth can see

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 4:30 pm | Updated: 7:24 am, Thu May 2, 2013.

It would be the greatest show on Earth if anybody could see it.

On Feb. 15, an asteroid dubbed 2012 DA14 will zoom within 17,200 miles of Earth. That may not sound that close, but at that distance, the asteroid will not only be closer to us than the moon, but also communications satellites in geostationary orbit.

Spoiler alert!

NASA scientists say there is no chance the asteroid will hit our planet.

So, we have this object passing within a celestial arm's-length of Earth, it should be a great sight, right? Sadly, no. 2012 DA14 is about 150 feet across, which is no pebble, but it's just too small to see with the naked eye. Folks in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia might be able to see the flyby if they have a telescope or good binoculars and know where to look.

Now for some fun stats to keep you awake at night.

2012 DA14 is likely made of stone and has a mass of about 130,000 metric tonnes. Back in 1908, an asteroid of similar size and makeup smashed into Earth near Tunguska, Russia. It felled 820 square miles of forest.

Now, 50,000 years ago, a metal asteroid of the same size came down in Arizona, left a mile-wide crater and destroyed everything within 50 miles.

Sweet dreams!

 

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