Roids – Aster, not Ster or Hem

A Cabin Night Sky

A Cabin Night Sky

Is it a bird, a plane, Superman? The streak in this post’s photo is likely a plane. it might be a satellite, but it is unlikely a meteor, let alone a killer asteroid. I was planning on devoting this entire evening to romancing my honey, but if the world is going to end tomorrow, I felt that it was only fair to give my dedicated readership a heads up. The asteroid DA14 is scheduled for a near miss of the Earth tomorrow. It is not supposed to strike our planet, but you know how these things sometimes go. Yeah, right!

DA14 should careen by the opposite side of the Earth from us, sometime after 1:30 PM Saint Louis time. It is small by asteroid standards, only about half a football field in length (160 feet). It will pass close by, only 17,000 miles from us, hardly anything in astronomical terms. Because it is so small, it will not be visible to the naked eye. It will pass between two belts of man-made satellites, above the GPS satellites, but within the orbits of geosynchronous satellites. It is deemed unlikely though that it will strike any of these craft, even though it will intersect the geosynchronous ring twice, because space is really a very big place. Once, DA14 passes by, Earth’s gravity will fling it away, such that it is unlikely to ever return.

A similarly sized asteroid is thought to have caused the 1908 Siberian Tunguska event. In that event trees were knocked down and set aflame for hundreds of square kilometers, and anyone within 10 kilometers probably wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale. Let me repeat, a reoccurrence of this type of event with DA14 in not expected. A similar strike by DA14 would not be a good thing, but DA14 sailing close by so that all the astronomers can geek-out over it, now that is cool.

UPDATE: Last night (in the morning local time) a meteor streaked across the Russian sky. It was as bright as the sun and its sonic boom injured 400 people with falling glass. This event is not believed to be related to DA14.

Leave a Reply