As asteroid 2012 DA14 continues to zoom ever closer to Earth, astronomers are releasing new images of the space rock, giving us a preview of what’s coming our way.
One of our favorites is the animated image above, which shows the asteroid moving across the sky. The asteroid is the blob of light in the center of the image. That streak of light off to the right is a satellite that got in the way, a spokesperson for JPL told the Los Angeles Times.
The data for the animated image above was collected by the Faulkes Telescope South in Siding Springs, Australia, and animated by astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy. It was taken Thursday, when the asteroid was still 465,000 miles away from Earth. At its closest approach Friday at about 11:25 a.m. PST, scientists say the asteroid will be just 17,200 miles away–putting it closer to earth than the moon, and many of our satellites.
The asteroid will be in the Earth and moon system for just 33 hours, according to NASA. It will enter Thursday at 7 p.m. PST and leave on Saturday at about 4 a.m. PST.
In the coming days, expect to see dozens more images of the asteroid taken by astronomers around the world. Here in California, NASA scientists will use the Goldstone Solar System Radar in the Mojave Desert to take radar images of the asteroid over the next five days, hoping to get more information about its exact size and shape. It is estimated to be 150 feet in diameter (or about half the length of a football field), and shaped a bit like an egg.
NASA scientists have repeatedly said there is no chance that the asteroid will hit Earth.