asteroid

Feb. 15, 2013 | 4:59 p.m.

Meteors and asteroids: What is the difference?

An image of the  meteor that streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning . (AP Photo / Nasha gazeta, www.ng.kz)
A meteor brighter than the sun streaked across a portion of Russia on Friday. At the same time, an asteroid the size of half a football field was zipping by Earth, closer than the moon. But what is the difference between a meteor and an asteroid? According to NASA, an asteroid is a rocky body that orbits the sun. Some asteroids are the size of small boulders, others can be up to several miles in diameter. PHOTOS: Meteor streaks over Russia Larger asteroids are sometimes called planetoids or minor planets. Very small ones are called meteoroids. A meteoroid can be smaller than a marble. When an asteroid or a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere it burns up and creates a streak of light (a shooting star). That streak of light is called a meteor. Most meteors burn up entirely as […]
Feb. 15, 2013 | 12:53 p.m.

Asteroid zips safely past Earth

A handout illustration showing a diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Friday. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
You can breathe deeply, people of Earth: Asteroid 2012 DA14 did not hit our planet. We are safe for now. The asteroid did, however, zip by at what NASA researchers called “a remarkably close distance” on Friday. At its closest approach on Friday at 11:25 a.m. PST, it was about 17,000 miles from the Earth’s surface, or about 1/10 the distance between Earth and the moon. That’s the closest an asteroid this size has ever come to Earth in recorded history. But the scientists at NASA were never worried that the asteroid would actually impact the planet. “Its orbit is very well known, we know exactly where it is going to go, and it cannot hit the Earth,” said Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office in a video statement days before the asteroid entered the Earth and moon system. The asteroid […]
Feb. 15, 2013 | 10:51 a.m.

Watch the Asteroid swing by Earth, closer than the moon

A handout illustration showing a diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Friday. (NASA/JPL-CALTECH)
Watch asteroid 2012 DA14 come closer to Earth than any other asteroid of its size on record. The asteroid is about half the size of a football field with a diameter of 150 feet.  At its closest approach to our planet, on Friday at 11:25 a.m. PST, it will be just 17,150 miles above the Earth’s surface – putting it closer to Earth than the moon, and many communications satellites. Still, no one will be able to see the asteroid with the naked eye; it is too dim. The  real-time and near real-time imagery of the asteroid in the NASA Ustream above is provided by observatories in Australia. NASA will stream imagery of the asteroid from observatories in the U.S. later in the day, but the agency will have to wait until it is dark enough for their telescopes to […]
Feb. 14, 2013 | 2:48 p.m.

Asteroid to fly by Earth on Friday: See it now

A screen grab of an animated GIF of asteroid 2012 DA14, obtained by the Faulkes Telescope South and animated by the Remanzacco Observatory. (LCOGT/Faulkes)
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 […]
Feb. 12, 2013 | 4:12 p.m.

Asteroid flyby on Friday: Where and when to watch it online

A handout illustration showing a diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Friday. (NASA/JPL-CALTECH)
An asteroid half  the size of a football field will come zipping past Earth at an almost uncomfortably close distance on Friday, and you can watch it online. If you were hoping to just crane your neck skyward and watch the space rock fly by overhead, think again: Though NASA scientists say this is the first time in recorded history that an asteroid this large will fly this close to Earth,  it will still appear too small to see with the naked eye. People in the Eastern Hemisphere may be able to spot the asteroid zoom by with the help of strong binoculars or a small telescope, but here in the Western Hemisphere, it will be nearly impossible to see it even with these visual aids because its closest approach will take place during daylight hours. Asteroid flyby: Call off […]
Feb. 07, 2013 | 9:04 a.m.

Countdown to asteroid flyby: Watch as experts discuss the flyby

Asteroid-fly-by-featured-im
Heart rates are picking up among scientists and sci-fi lovers alike as a huge asteroid prepares to swing by Earth next week. Sky watchers who are on the edge of their seats can watch a live NASA media teleconference live Thursday at 11 a.m. PST, when experts will talk about our upcoming encounter with the 150-foot-diameter flying object. Even better, you can watch a Ustream feed of the flyby provided by a NASA telescope at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.  That stream will be broadcast from 6 to 9 p.m. PST on Feb 15.  During the feed, NASA says, tweeters can send their questions to researchers. As Hero Complex reported Wednesday, the asteroid will come hurtling toward Earth on Feb. 15.  NASA officials said Asteroid 2012 DA14 would come within “a remarkably close distance” of Earth. But the […]
Feb. 05, 2013 | 6:40 a.m.

Asteroid flyby: Call off the space crew; no deep impact expected

Leo Beiderman (Elijah Wood) and Sarah Hotchner (Leelee Sobieski) race to safety as the comet approaches in the 1998 film "Deep Impact." (Paramount Pictures)
This post has been corrected. Please see note at the bottom for details.  An asteroid half the length of a football field will come hurtling toward Earth on Feb. 15 — but that’s no reason to call on a team of deep-sea oil drillers or an international space crew armed with  nuclear weapons. Although NASA officials said Asteroid 2012 DA14 will zip by Earth at “a remarkably close distance,” the space agency also said that there was no chance that the asteroid would impact our planet. Officials were not nearly so sanguine in two of the best-known Hollywood films — both from 1998 —  centered on the theme of disaster descending from the heavens.  In “Deep Impact” it was a 7-mile-wide comet being battled by an international space team. “Armageddon” had oil drillers taking a quickie course in how to […]
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