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Asteroid 2012 DA14: How to spot it
Updated 5:05pm Friday 15th February 2013 in News
A 150ft-wide space rock will pass within 17,200 miles of the Earth today.
Experts believe there is no chance of Asteroid 2012 DA14 hitting the planet, but its projected path will bring it as close to the earth as 100 of our telecommunication and weather satellites.
It is predicted to reach its nearest point to Earth at around 7.30pm UK time today - meaning that if the skies are clear, you should be able to track it.
The path the asteroid will take. Click the image to see it full size.
Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: ''It will be possible to see it if you know where to look, but just waving your binoculars in the right general direction isn't going to work.
''The asteroid will be a faint dot of light moving at a steady rate between the stars. It'll be thousands of times fainter than Jupiter and 250 times fainter than the stars of the Plough.
''The trick will be to find the area in advance and wait for it to come through. You can use the star maps to find exactly the right part of the sky. If you hold your binoculars steady you will see this tiny point of light crawling across your field of view in about seven or eight minutes.
''It's not easy, but you will have the thrill of knowing you are seeing a little object in space the size of an office block.''
Travelling at between 12,427mph (20,000kph) and 18,641mph (30,000kph) - around five miles (8km) a second, or eight times the speed of a rifle bullet - the asteroid will fly inside the orbits of high geostationary satellites some 22,000 miles (35,406km) above the Earth.
During today's fly-by, scientists will use radar to study DA14 and learn about its composition and structure. The knowledge could prove useful if steps have to be taken to remove the threat of another space rock.
IN an unrelated event, a meteor streaked across the sky in Russia this morning, causing several explosions and injuring hundreds of people. See the videos of that here.
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