Asteroid will pass close to Earth

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A small asteroid will pass close to Earth on the 16th February, but there is no chance of it hitting land.

The asteroid will actually pass closer than all the television satellites that ring the planet.

The asteroid is known as 2012 DA14 and was discovered last year by a group of amateur astronomers in Spain.

It is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool at 46 metres in diameter and is projected to come as close as 27,520km from Earth.

Scientists began monitoring asteroids about 15 years ago and this is the closest any have come.

Television, weather and communications satellites fly about 800km higher. The moon is 14 times farther away.

The time of the asteroid’s closest approach will be around 8.24am February 16 in New Zealand. You will not be able to see the asteroid with the naked eye but if you have a telescope or binoculars you may be able to catch a view.

DA14 is currently soaring  through the sky at about 13km per second. At that speed, an object of similar size on a collision course with Earth would strike with the force of about 2.4 million tons of dynamite.

The last time that happened was in 1908 when an asteroid or comet exploded over Siberia, levelling 80 million trees over 2150 square kilometres.

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