|Friday, 15 February 2013 11:03|
KUALA LUMPUR: Asteroid 2012 DA14, which is the size of an Olympic swimming pool, will be passing Earth starting midnight today.
It will be passing the planet at the closest range ever recorded for any asteroid.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be passing Earth at a closer distance than our own orbiting weather and communication satellites, such as Measat.
Measuring 50m in diameter and weighing an estimated 130,000 tonnes, Asteroid 2012 DA14 is considered a small asteroid by scientists.
Passing at a distance of 28,000km from Earth, a statement from the National Space Agency said the asteroid is on a different orbit and unlikely to impact our planet.
The pass will last for a good six hours starting from midnight until dawn tomorrow and will approach from the southern sky and move towards the north.
Local astronomy enthusiasts will be able to monitor the asteroid's movement, but they would need a good telescope as it is a relatively small asteroid.
"The best thing to do would be to use a computerised version telescope as it would enable the viewer to download and track its movement.
"The asteroid will appear very small and faint.
"It will brighten up just a little bit to approximately 7.2 magnitude at its closest approach and then dim again.
"So, it's important for those who are tracking the asteroid to know where it is in the sky because it will be moving very fast, at a speed of 7.8km/s.
"Choose a place where the sky is pristine and far from light pollution and clouds to see it clearly."
The agency will also be tracking and recording photographic details of the asteroid's approach via its Langkawi National Observatory and the pictures will be uploaded on its Facebook page.
Asteroid 2012 DA14's path was first discovered by the LaSagra observatory in southern Spain on Feb 23, last year.