An asteroid predicted to swing close by Earth tomorrow
morning does not pose any threat, Dunedin Astronomical Society
president Peter Jaquiery says. The asteroid, about half the
size of a rugby field, will whizz past about 27,700km above
Earth about 8.24am New Zealand time in what Nasa is calling a
Mr Jaquiery said the asteroid would not be visible in Dunedin
skies, because it was passing during daylight hours. It would
however, be visible through a telescope in eastern Europe,
Australia and Asia.
The passing by of the asteroid - named 2012 DA 14 - was no
cause for worry as Nasa knew ''very precisely'' were it was
going and ''there was absolutely no way it was going to hit
Earth''. Asteroids did not change course over a short period
of time, he said.
While the asteroid, at 45m in diameter, was not ''terribly
big'', if one of similar size hit Earth ''you really wouldn't
want to be under it''.
The last time an asteroid of similar size hit was in 1908, in
the Siberian wilderness. It caused a significant explosion
and wiped out 2000sq km of forest.
Mr Jaquiery said if an asteroid was on a collision course for
Earth there was little that current technology could do about
Nasa estimated an asteroid of similar size to 2012 DA 14
passed close to Earth every 40 years, on average, but hit
Earth only once every 1200 years.
The asteroid would pass inside the orbit of communications
satellites, but Nasa expected it to pass through an area free