Watch asteroid 2012 DA14 flyby LIVE on the Web

2012 DA14 earlier this morning seen from Australia. The negative or reversed image is a 4-minute time exposure. The fast-moving asteroid created a trail of light during that time. Credit: Dave Herald

After this morning’s Russian fireball, we’re all sitting on the edge of our seats, but the fireball and 2012 DA14 are unrelated asteroid fragments on very different paths. One made a beeline directly to Earth, the other will safely pass 17,150 miles away around 1:24 p.m. (CST) today. The latest estimates on the Russian meteoroid’s size before it broke it up in the atmosphere put it around 50 feet across with a weight upwards of 7,000 tons. Today’s asteroid in contrast is about 150 feet end-to-end and tips the scales at 209,000 tons.

Amateur astronomer Dave Herald of Australia has been busy taking pictures of 2012 DA14 through his telescope overnight. His photograph shows the asteroid as a trail against the starry backdrop as it moved northward during the 4-minute time exposure. Herald will be providing an online feed with his observations and photos for NASA later today.

Simulated image of 2012 DA14 approaching Earth this morning around 9:15 a.m. CST. Antarctica shows up nicely as the asteroid closes in. Click to see the latest image.

If you’d like to hear commentary and see real-time pictures of the flyby (from Dave and others), check out NASA TV’s live stream beginning at 11 a.m. Central Time and continuing through the afternoon. Undoubtedly you’ll learn more about the Russian fireball there, too. When pictures are shown, the asteroid will look exactly like a star, because you’re looking at a small object many thousands of miles away.

A Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be streamed for three hours starting at 8 p.m. CST this evening when the asteroid is visible in a dark sky over the U.S. You can view the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter HERE.

And don’t forget to take a virtual ride-along with the asteroid available HERE. Images are updated every 2 minutes. Enjoy the show!

21 thoughts on “Watch asteroid 2012 DA14 flyby LIVE on the Web

  1. Hi what time will it be closes to earth? And after that approach it will be just leaving right? Today has been a crazy day already it has the web on a uproar lol Im in ny so what time will it be for me? Thanks

  2. Bright fireball, close asteroid, Mars and Mercury what a month! Panstaars is now in the magnitude 4-5 range. I expect not many days before it is in the 3-4 range. It just might become a bright comet yet. Bressi has not been seen to my knowledge for 4-5 days. If it is still out there at magnitude 11, we can’t expect it to brighten brighter than magnitude 8, and it would be 11 or dimmer before it moves north far enough for us to see it.

    • Edward,
      Yes, it’s been a very full month and it’s only half over. As for Panstarrs magnitude, all the observations I see place it right at 5.0-5.3. What has reported it at 4?

    • Leslie,
      Just the usual stuff. Mercury and Mars are relatively near each other low in the west in the evening sky. PANSTARRS is the name of a fairly bright comet that will be visible in the west at dusk next month.

  3. Bob,

    Are you planning on posting a link for the da14 radar images when they become available? Will the data also reveal da14′s composition?

    Has anyone calculated the odds of these two events happening on the same day?
    I consider myself a fairly rational thinker but seems a little out there.

    • Kevin,
      I’ll post them as soon as they’re available. The data should also tell us something about it’s composition as well. Coincidences happen all the time and we’re easily tempted to connect them even if there is no other relation than that they occurred near the same time. We’ll have to wait for hard data to see if there is any.

  4. Hi Bob:

    I’m trying to figure out if the meteor might have been in the same orbit as DA14. If that could be demonstrated, I think it would have significant influence on how the risk of Near Earth or Earth Grazing asteroids will be assessed in future. If asteroids (like these) are shown to possibly have debris trails (both preceding and trailing in their orbits), then that would be a game changer, don’t you think?

    Looking at the nasa animations, it seems possible that the orbit of DA14 might have grazed of indeed intersected with the earth, prior to the asteroid’s closest approach (at which point, the orbit is 17 something thousand miles from earth, of course). If this were the case, it could put the meteor on the asteroid’s orbit, and that would make them very much “related.” I notice on the many Russian videos that the meteor was travelling from South to North, just as it should have, if it had been “captured” by the earth’s atmosphere, but had been initially travelling in the same orbit as DA14.

    I just need to know if the orbit of DA14 intersected with Earth about the time of the meteor’s appearance. My celestial mechanics is too rusty to make that determination from online sources. Here’s an interesting paper on the orbital elements of DA14:

    http://mnras.oxfordjournals.org/content/427/2/1175.full

    Down in the text of section 7. there is a statement about the asteroid’s orbit intersecting with Earth.

    thanks

    Boris

    • Boris,
      The path of the meteor was not north-south or south-north according to eyewitnesses and NASA experts. That’s all I have to go by right now. Assuming that’s true, that is a different trajectory than the asteroid’s, making them unrelated. We’ll have to watch closely in the coming days to see whether the composition of the meteorites recovered matches that of the asteroid.

  5. Most of the videos that I’ve seen it appears like the fireball was coming out of the east, using the rising sun as reference. I also read somewhere that one of the first radar tracking sites to pick it up was in or near Alaska, it mentioned that it continued on a southwestern direction.
    So it will be interesting to see if there is any correlation between the two considering that they were coming from entirely different trajectories.

    I wouldn’t think it such an odd occurrence if they were both on the same orbit.

    All in all a very interesting event for our times!

  6. hi Bob, yes it’s been quite a week astronomically speaking. I wasn’t scared, tho’. But another matter. The Weather Channel had a feature last nite on the climate of Venus, not a very nice place to visit. Too many sulphuric oxide clouds/rain, etc. They said something that I had not heard before. That Venus was once a watery planet but was hit by a large planetoid object which slowed its rotation and tipped it upright (no axial tilt like ours). The result they said was to eliminate the planet’s magnetic field exposing the planet to solar winds that increased temps and swept away the water. And created a lot of CO2 in the process. That’s the story in a nutshell. Is this your take on the matter? And how do they know (or think that they know) all this?

  7. I’ve been watching carefully for the past seven years how many asteroids intersecting earths orbit and always wondering ,its was a matter of time ,one of them even a small one to make people and media feel unprotected and insecure
    before cosmic environment !
    It’s time for people to open their minds and ears
    and learn some things for space and universe ,instead of living in their own matrix world of virtual safety !
    Life is a mystery, so its the universe !
    Time for us to wake up and learn the basic.
    Thank you Bob
    Tassos from Athens Greece

  8. So we can say with certainty that DA14 and this meteor that burned up and exploded over Russia were unrelated to each other since they were traveling in pretty much opposite directions. Three questions:
    1) is there enough information from the Russian meteor to actually plot an orbit for the thing?
    2) If so, how close would it and DA14 have come to each other had it not entered the Earth’s atmosphere?
    3) Approximately how big would the craters be if either one of these asteroids were to crash into the Moon? Would such an event be easily visible from Earth as either a naked-eye or binoculars event?

    (yes, that was 4 questions, wasn’t it? I was just trying to sneak it in there!)

    Awesome posts, Bob; as usual!

    • Bob,
      1. There should be enough information with the satellite images (see today’s blog) and all those dashcams to plot an orbit and determine from whence it came. Hoping to find out soon.
      2. The fireball came in about 9:25 a.m. local Chelyabinsk time on Feb. 15 and 2012 DA14 was closest at 1:24 a.m. Feb. 16, again local time. That’s a difference of 16 hours. The asteroid was 17,200 miles at closest and 232,500 miles 16 hours earlier. So DA14 was some 27 Earth diameters nearly due south of our planet when the Russia fireball occurred.
      3. Based on past observations using video cameras, a 10-inch wide meteorite can create a 7th magnitude flash visible in a telescope on the unlit part of the moon. Using that as a guideline, I think both would have obvious to the naked eye if they happened on the dark part of the moon. As for impacts on the bright, sunlit moon, that’s another question. If near the lunar terminator, probably, but I’m doubtful one the size of the Russian fireball would be visible on a full moon.
      4. You can use the impact simulator (http://simulator.down2earth.eu/) to get an idea of how large a crater the two would have made on Earth. I don’t know exactly how large the craters would have been on the moon, but they’d probably be bigger since the moon has no atmosphere to slow a meteoroid down or break it up into pieces prior to impact. Here’s another calculator: http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/tekton/crater_c.html

      • very cool. The first one doesn’t let you be very specific about the size of the incoming object (increments of 100 meters). But they both kind of give you an idea of how that might look. I like that the first one provides some information about wind speed, air-burst altitude, and sound pressure levels. I like that the second provides acceleration rates for different planets and the Moon.

        Thanks.

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