Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Plans for visual observation of Asteroid 2012 DA14

Well! I decided to look up details to get more information to help me do visual observation of the Asteroid DA14's flyby the coming Friday night - Saturday morning. Midnight of Feb 15, 2013 to 5 AM of Feb 16, 2013 is the best time, if you wish to see it reasonably well above the horizon, for locations near Bangalore.  Hindu Business Line gave me some hope of a memorable spectacle, saying
‘Close’ asteroid may miss Earth, but could hit telecom satellites
I know that telecom satellites cost a lot of money, but I don't mind if the asteroid hits an old satellite nearing the end of its design life on its way-in! Interestingly, telecom satellites need fuel to stay at their allocated sites in geosynchronous orbit. So, in something like seven years, most satellites would have exhausted their fuel. One of them might as well give me my spectacle! If it is hit as the asteroid is coming in, the debris from the collision would have a chance of hitting the earth's atmosphere to give us fireworks.

With renewed hope, I did a web search to get myself a sky map showing the line representing the expected path of the asteroid against the backdrop of constellations and stars. One very useful website turned out to be


It gave me useful information, and pointed me to the site

Text under the heading "configuration" on the page mentioned allowed me to enter details of my location, Bangalore, (Latitude 12.98,  Longitude 77.78 and Altitude 920 Meters. You can get your own coordinates: google for latitude longitude YOURCITY). After I entered my location details, it needed just one more click to ask for the map, and I got the following map showing exactly what I wanted.


It seems that you will get about 4.5 hours to see it (00:30 Hours to 05:00 Hours) if you are within 300 miles of Bangalore. However, the asteroid could appear pretty dim after 3 AM, since the point of nearest approach is at about 1 AM, Saturday's early morning.

Best of luck. Just make sure that you get to a place with very few artificial lights around. Carry a pair of good binoculars, along with a torch! Carry a sheet to spread on the ground. You would need to be flat on your back if you are not going to sprain your neck! Best wishes for a good sighting. You are unlikely to see DA14 again! Earth's gravity is modifying the asteroid's orbit pretty seriously!

Srinivasan Ramani  

1 comment:

Srinivasan Ramani said...



for an update on visual observation of the asteroid DA14.

Srinivasan Ramani