Thursday, January 31, 2013

Get Ready for Asteroid 2012 DA14

Map of path of Near Earth Asteroid C/2012 DA14 as seen from Adelaide on the morning of February 16 (Feb 15 UT) generated in Heavens Above.  Click to embiggen.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that the record-breaking Near Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass below the orbits of geostationary satellites (2,600,000* 34,100 Km) on February 15 UT (that is the early morning of the 16th for us in Australia).

But you may not know that Australia is ideally placed to observe it fly by. You can not see it with your unaided eye, but the closest part of the approach will be visible in 10x50 binoculars (and telescopes).

You will be easily able to see the asteroid move (slowly from our point of view), as it comes close.Western Australians have the best view of the flyby.

Because the asteroid is so close, you will need to generate a map for your site, Heavens Above is ideal with a dedicated 2012 DA14 link. Keep checking closer to the date as the orbit is being refined. I'll give more spotting hints then. * read wrong line while doing this late at night