Massive asteroid 2012 DA14 passes by Earth

By: admin
Updated: 16 Feb 2013 12:25 AM

The massive 2012 DA14 asteroid came closest to the Earth on Friday and
is now heading away from the planet, Russian astronomers said.

The asteroid, the size of a 15-storey building, reached its closest point
to the Earth at 23.25 on Friday, approaching the planet at the distance of
27,700 km, closer than communication and weather satellites.

"Currently, from the point of view of an observer in the centre of
European Russia, it can be found on the southeastern part of the sky, in
the Virgo constellation, about eight degrees above the horizon," said
Leonid Yelenin, an astronomer of the Keldysh Institute of Applied

The flyby took place about 16 hours after a meteorite shower left some
1,200 people injured in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk.

The asteroid was not visible to the naked eye, shining at its brightest
with an apparent magnitude of about 7.0.

A person with average eyesight can see celestial objects with brightness
down to magnitude 6.

The 2012 DA14, which is roughly 50 metres in size and weighing about
130,000 metric tonnes, was first spotted by a team of Spanish astronomers
at the La Sagra Sky Survey.

Their calculations had demonstrated that the celestial body would fly
close to the Earth in 2013, with a small possibility of impact.