Tag Archives: NEOs

A Near-earth Object, Asteroid 1998 QE2, Is Now Hurtling Towards Earth


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Asteroid 1998 QE2 - 1

A near-earth object labeled Asteroid 1998 QE2, is now hurtling towards earth.

The asteroid about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) or nine Queen Elizabeth 2 ship-lengths in size in length has the physical mass to potentially knockout life on Earth. However, we are safe as it is just flying by.

The orbit of asteroid 1998 QE2

On May 31, 2013, at 20:59 UTC (1:59 p.m. Pacific / 4:59 p.m. Eastern) this asteroid will pass within 3.6 million miles (5.8 million km) of Earth – about 15 times the distance to the Moon. While this may seem a great distance for the layman, in astronomical terms it is a mere stone’s throw away. This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico, discovered this asteroid on August 19, 1998. It is officially known as Asteroid 1998 QE2. It is not named in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, or after that 12-decked, transatlantic-crossing flagship for the Cunard Line. The name was assigned by the NASA-supported Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. This institute assigns each newly discovered asteroid a provisional designation starting with the year of first detection, along with an alphanumeric code showing the half-month it was discovered, and the sequence within that half-month.

Though this asteroid is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) or larger radar telescopes at their disposal.

Radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said: “Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features … Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”

Asteroid 1998 QE2

Asteroids come in various sizes and shapes: dog bones, bowling pins, spheroids, diamonds, muffins, potatoes, etc. Between May 30 and June 9, radar astronomers using NASA’s 230-foot-wide (70 meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, are planning an extensive campaign of observations. The two telescopes with complementary imaging capabilities will enable astronomers to study 1998 QE2 and what it looks like during its brief flyby.

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Asteroid 2012 DA14 Will Flyby on February 15, 2013


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Diagram of 2012 DA14 passing the Earth on 15 February 2013
Path of 2012 DA14 passing the Earth on 15 February 2013

The small near-Earth asteroid named 2012 DA14 discovered on February 23, 2012, by the OAM Observatory, La Sagra in Spain with an estimated diameter of about 45 meters (about half the size of a football field) weighing about 130,000 metric tons mass probably made of stone in contrast to metal or ice is now hurtling towards the earth. It will pass within about 3.5 Earth radii of the Earth’s surface inside the geosynchronous satellite ring, located about 35,800 kilometers above the equator.

UPCOMING CLOSE APPROACHES TO EARTH - 2

Tomorrow, February 15, 2013, when it passes within 17,200 miles (28,000 kilometers) of Earth, it will not be visible to the naked eye, but will be within range of small telescopes and solidly mounted binoculars, used by experienced observers who have access to appropriate star charts. Here is a note from NASA about the asteroid’s visibility:

On [February 15, 2013], the asteroid will travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky with its closest Earth approach occurring about 19:26 UTC when it will achieve a magnitude of less than seven, which is somewhat fainter than naked eye visibility. About 4 minutes after its Earth close approach, there is a good chance it will pass into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes or so before reappearing from the eclipse. When traveling rapidly into the northern morning sky, 2012 DA14 will quickly fade in brightness.

Astronomical observatories with their large telescopes would record images of the asteroid, and some observatories will be broadcasting them live online.

Slooh Space Camera will cover the asteroid’s near-approach on Friday, February 15, Slooh to cover live from the Canary Islands with the broadcast team, with several live shows free to the public starting at 6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST / 02:00 UTC (2/16), accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh Space Camera’s Paul Cox, astronomer and author Bob Berman, and Prescott Observatory manager Matt Francis. Viewers can watch live on their PC or iOS/Android mobile device.

Clay Center Observatory will be offering real-time high-definition video, from 22:00 UTC (6 p.m. EST) February 15 until 8:00 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on February 16. The video feed can be freely accessed worldwide via Clay Center Observatory’s Ustream channel. The observatory has also set up a countdown clock to show how much time remains until the tracking begins.

Bareket Observatory in Israel will be providing a free live webcast of the close approach of asteroid 2012 DA14 using a remote telescope coupled with a cooled CCD camera on February 15 from 21:00 – 22:30 local time (19:00 – 20:30 UTC, or 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. CST).

Virtual Telescope Project, which calls itself “the most active facility in the world in astronomical science and education,” will also be following 2012 DA14 on February 15, 2013.

Will anything happen when asteroid 2012 DA14 comes close to Earth? Nothing. According to Paul Chodas, Jon Giorgini and Don Yeomans of NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office the asteroid will not impact the Earth on February 15, 2013.

The asteroid will have no effect on the tides. It will not cause volcanoes to erupt. It will not trigger earthquakes and tsunamis. Though the asteroid will just hurtle closely past Earth only 17,000 miles away – within the orbits of geosynchronous satellites, most of us will not see it, and we will not be aware of it at all.

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Asteroid 2012 DA14 Will Pass the Earth on February 15, 2013


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

.UPCOMING CLOSE APPROACHES TO EARTH

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On February 23, 2012, the OAM Observatory, La Sagra in Spain discovered a near-earth asteroid with an estimated diameter of about 45 meters and about 130,000 metric tons mass hurtling towards the earth. On February 15th, 2013, this asteroid named 2012 DA14 will pass within about 3.5 Earth radii of the Earth’s surface inside the geosynchronous satellite ring, located about 35,800 kilometers above the equator. According to Paul Chodas, Jon Giorgini and Don Yeomans of NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office the asteroid will not impact the Earth on February 15, 2013.

Diagram of 2012 DA14 passing the Earth on 15 February 2013
Diagram of 2012 DA14 passing the Earth on 15 February 2013. – Author: NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office.

As per calculations, on February 15, 2013, the distance between the asteroid and the Earth will be 0.09 Lunar Distance (35,000 kilometers; 21,000 miles) and travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky. Its closest Earth approach to Earth would occur at 19:26 UTC achieving magnitude of less than seven; somewhat fainter than naked-eye visibility. Four minutes later 2012 DA14 after passing into the Earth’s shadow for 18 minutes it will reappear from the eclipse, travel swiftly into the northern morning sky and would disappear.

Note: LD = Lunar Distance = ~384,000 kilometers (238,900 miles) .

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