It’s been a bit since I chatted about all the interesting things going on ‘out there.’
What better way to kick off this Astronomer's Corner than to discuss Asteroid 2012 DA14, which will have safely whizzed by Earth by this time tomorrow. Half the size of a football field, the stony rock was discovered a year ago. This will be the closest passing asteroid recorded as it sails over our planet beneath most satellites at a distance of .09 LD (Lunar Distance) from Earth. That's roughly 17,200 miles above us. It's traveling at about eight times the speed of a rifle bullet. Regrettably in my neck of the woods it’ll be flying by during daylight hours so I won’t be able to watch it with my telescope. *sad face*
However, we can all watch 2012 DA14 compliments of the guys at SLOOH Space Camera. They'll be recording the fly-by from the Canary Islands. Click HERE to bookmark their site now.
In other space news, as was expected in 2013, NASA and The United Nations prepare for a solar maximum. What does that mean? Simple. Though the sun’s been relatively quiet for a while she’s starting to become more active. An 'M' or 'X' class flare can hurl a decent burst of solar wind at our planet. Thanks to our magnetic field most of what we experience as a result is breathtaking aurora lights (mainly seen if you live nearer the poles.)
However, a strong flare aimed directly at Earth has the ability to disable satellites and knock out power grids. To learn more about why Professor Hans Haubold of the UN office for outer space affairs says, “Space weather is a significant natural hazard that requires global preparedness,” click HERE.
Last but not least for this segment is comet ISON. I can’t wait for this one! In November and December we Earthlings should get quite a show. No telescope needed! If all goes well, we’ll be able to see this baby with the naked eye not only at night but during the day. It should be as bright as the moon. Can you imagine? So fingers crossed this sun-grazer won’t disintegrate like Elenin did in 2011. What’s in our favor this time? ISON is much larger than Elinin so has a better chance of withstanding the sun's heat.
Things are bound to get a lot busier so keep your eyes peeled for my next Astronomer’s Corner segment. Until then, happy sky-gazing!