50-meter asteroid will come within 17,000 miles of Earth on 2/15/2013

"Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s," says Don Yeomans of NASA's Near Earth Object Program says, "we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth." That's about 5% of the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. (See also: The Last Policeman: solving a murder before an asteroid wipes out life on Earth.)


    1. We get very close ones pretty often, but this one is far larger than most, and very much closer. It’s not just within the orbit of the moon, it’s less than 1/10th the distance.

      Here’s a list of recent near misses:


      Here’s a great site for keeping up with asteroids, aurora, solar flares, etc:


      And here’s a nice way to check your local observing conditions:


      (you set your location, then can patch the code in to a web page or bookmark your local link – for instance, here’s Cincinnati: http://cleardarksky.com/c/CincinnatiOHkey.html )

  1. Ha! Nice try, God/nature/universe/asteroid. 

    On behalf of humanity and its assorted subaltern biomes, I’d just like to say that this confirms once again that we’re invincible, and that nothing can possibly go wrong now.

    1.  At 50m, doesn’t it depend on the material it’s made of? (Don’t know if that was mentioned in the article)

      The asteroid calculator indicates that under fairly normal conditions, a metal-asteroid of this size could easily create a mile-wide crater. A pretty localized disaster but still pretty bad.

    2. Your “no biggie” Tunguska event flattened trees for 830 square miles and would have registered 5.0 on the Richter scale. From Wikipedia:  “An explosion of this magnitude is capable of destroying a large metropolitan area.”

  2. The link for the quote should probably be http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/28jan_2012da/, not nymag. The post at nymag has even less content than this post.

  3. I wonder if an appropriately-sized asteroid collision, say into a mostly empty place such as the Sahara or Siberia, could be engineered such as to do minimal harm to humans or wildlife but still kick up enough dust to temporarily counteract some of the effects of global warming by cooling the planet down for a few years.  In essence it could be a mini nuclear winter without all that nasty radiation.  Give the ice caps a chance to grow back, etc.

  4. it’s not going to hit, but that it’s coming closer than geosynchronous satellites is what makes it interesting.   

    Apophis will do the same in 2029 (Apophis is a lot bigger though, 270 meters to this asteroid’s 50 meters or so).

    I note that at least one observatory on east coast U.S.A. is having observing from 8pm-10pm ET on Feb. 15th of 2012 DA14 (Rolnick Observatory in Connecticut’s Facebook page).

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