Asteroid’s close call
PLAN to rise early Saturday morning if you want to catch a glimpse of a rare asteroid passing between the earth and the moon.
According to space astronomer Dave Reneke from Australasian Science Magazine, the space rock, dubbed 2012 DA14, will pass 27,000km above Earth's surface, closer than some high orbiting communications satellites.
And it will be visible with binoculars or low powered telescopes, provided they are mounted on a stable tripod.
Viewers should be prepared to rise before 5am, February 16, and scan the southern sky between the Southern Cross and the second brightest star Canopus which lies immediately below it.
In that vicinity the asteroid should be visible as a faint star moving slowly from south to west and will grow brightest just before dawn.
NASA says this is one of the largest asteroids ever to come this close to Earth, but other, much larger space rocks have crashed into the earth's surface millions of years ago, causing calamitous damage. The last asteroid to cause serious destruction on the ground exploded over a Siberian forest in 1908.
"Objects this size come close to Earth roughly every 30 years or so," Mr Reneke said. "You may never see one like it again." For more information visit Mr Reneke's webpage www.davidreneke.com
View a UFO!
Get up just before sunrise tomorrow and you will see the International Space Station glowing in all its glory as it travels low on the western horizon. Mr Reneke said that the station was more brilliant than ever, thanks to new solar arrays installed last year. It will be visible as a growing light for three minutes from 6:05am
"It is the size of a football field and is the number one object reported as being a UFO."