Can I Interest you in an Asteroid?

A large space rock known as asteroid 2012 DA14 will be zipping by our planet on Feb. 15, coming within 28,000 km of Earth, the closest approach ever seen for an object its size. You can catch the event live using a backyard telescope or binoculars or watch it here on Wired with a collection of live feeds from around the world.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 has a diameter roughly equal to an Olympic-size swimming pool, 50 meters, and an estimated mass similar to the object that caused the 1908 Tunguska Event that destroyed a large swath of remote land in Russia. Thankfully, there is no chance that the asteroid will impact the Earth. It will come within 27,700 km at its closest approach, less than a tenth of the distance between the Earth and moon.

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Regrettably, the United States will have poor viewing opportunities. This makes the second recent time I will be foiled in my desire to view rare astronomical phenomena, the first being being when an unhelpful rainstorm obscured my view of the transit of Venus.

Of course, I will likely live another 60-70 years. Within that time frame, it is statistically likely that the Earth will experience a major impact event. Hopefully I won't have a front row ticket.


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