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February 15, 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14 and the Russian Meteorite

On the evening of Friday 15 February, asteroid 2012 DA14 made a close pass of Earth, at a distance of just 17,200 miles from the surface. This was the brightest ever “near-Earth object” (NEO) to be observed approaching Earth. Some news reports on the object can be found at the following links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21442863

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/asteroidflyby.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/9873233/Asteroid-2012-DA14-brushes-by-Earth-as-it-happened.html

http://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-2012-da14-will-pass-very-close-to-earth-in-2013

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the asteroid at our Blackheath stargazing event on Friday evening, due to cloud. However, the attendance was very good and it was great to chat to attendees about astronomy and the events of the day. We even got ourselves on to Sky News! See http://news.sky.com/story/1052399/asteroid-skims-past-earth-in-record-near-miss

Ekaterinburg_view_of_2013_meteor_eventIn what would appear to be an extraordinary coincidence, one of the largest meteors to enter the Earth’s atmosphere is recent years caused widespread damage and injury in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia early on Friday morning. NASA have estimated the size of the object to be 55 feet (17 metres) with a mass of 10,000 tons.

See:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/news/asteroid20130215.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/15/breaking_huge_meteor_explodes_over_russia.html

What was particularly unique about this object was the extraordinary amount of video footage of the event. Russian car drivers have taken to install dashboard cameras in their cars, primarily for insurance purposes, and much of the footage was recorded on these.

Some of the best videos can be seen in the following links:

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