Tips for viewing passing asteroid

The path of asteroid 2012 DA14's approach to earth is shown in this handout graphic from Nasa. Photograph: Nasa/Reuters

The path of asteroid 2012 DA14's approach to earth is shown in this handout graphic from Nasa. Photograph: Nasa/Reuters

Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 00:00

Stargazers living in cities can still catch a glimpse of the asteroid passing Earth tonight, according to Astronomy Ireland.

Because Halogen lights may hinder people from getting a good look at 2012DA14, Astronomy Ireland spokesman Conor Farrell is advising people to find a dark place to search for the 190,000 metric ton rock.

Mr Farrell said that binoculars may be better at tracking the asteroid, which was discovered in February 2012.

"The asteroid is going to be very faint, so you will need binoculars. Some people say you a telescope, but binoculars should do the trick. It's going to be moving very fast so it will be difficult to track," he said.

It will be around 27,000km to Earth at its closest. It will look like a small dot, but it's going to pass closer than a lot of geostationary satellites.

Mr Farrell said that the asteroid will cross the handle of the Plough at 9.40pm tonight, which may be the perfect starting point for stargazers to locate it.

He added that there is no link between this asteroid and the meteor shower which injured over 500 people in Russia this morning.

Astronomy Ireland will also be hosting a family-friendly viewing party from 8pm today at Airside Enterprise Centre in Swords.

A video of the approaching asteroid as viewed in Australia can be seen here.

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