Palma.—However, there is no need to panic because astronomers world wide, including NASA, which are monitoring the asteroid, have said it will not hit Earth next year.

2012 DA14 was spotted by the Majorcan Observatory's satellite La Sagra Observatory in sierra near Granada.
From Majorca, astronomers are using la Sagra to carry out the La Sagra Sky Survey, which is the only system of its kind in the world which is constantly monitoring objects close to Earth.

And, on February 15 next year, the asteroid is expected to be so close to earth that a simple pair of binoculars or a video camera will be sufficient to get a good view of it.

Nasa's Impact Risk report said that the odds of the space rock actually hitting our planet are very low indeed – but it will pass just 17'000 miles from Earth, closer than ‘geostationary' satellites.

According to NASA, if an asteroid of that size hit our planet, it would cause an explosion similar to a nuclear blast.
Two astronomers operating the robotic La Sagra Observatory from Majorca spotted 2012 DA14 in late February and its orbit has been calculated to be very similar to Earth's.

Some reports suggested that on February 15 next year an impact was a possibility, but U.S astronomer Phil Plait, has ruled out an impact. “Asteroid 2012 DA14 is almost certainly not going to hit Earth next February. And by ‘almost certainly', I mean it. The odds of an impact are so low they are essentially zero. This does not rule out an impact at some future date, but for now we're safe,” he said. “Seventeen thousand miles is well beneath many of our own orbiting satellites. To the best of my knowledge, this is the closest pass of a decent-sized asteroid ever seen before the actual pass itself. However, let's again be very clear – it will miss. In astronomical terms, 17'000 miles is pretty close, but in real human terms it's a clean miss,” he added. After next year, 2012 DA14's closest brush with Earth will come in 2020, but Plait said that even then the odds of an impact will be less than the chance of being hit by lightning in your lifetime – 1 in 100'000.

Let's hope he is right.


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