Would government tell us if we were about to be hit by an asteroid?

Rick Moran
There are enough independent astronomers who have plotted the course of the asteroid due to zoom by earth barely 17,000 miles above our surface that we can be reasonably certain that we won't get slammed in a cosmic collision that would destroy civilization as we know it.

But would anyone tell us if we were going to get hit?

Scientists say there's no chance that 2012 DA14 will hit us:

Experts have calculated it will stay at least 17,200 miles (27,681km) away - easily far enough to be safe, but a very close shave in astronomical terms. Scientists have never observed such a narrow miss before.

Dr Dan Brown, from Nottingham Trent University, said telecommunication satellites - that ping data between our mobile phones - could be in danger.

Travelling at between 12,427mph (20,000kph) and 18,641mph (30,000kph) - around five miles (8km) a second, or eight times the speed of a rifle bullet - the asteroid will fly inside the orbits of high geostationary satellites some 22,000 miles (35,406km) above the Earth.

''These are the satellites that provide us with telecommunications and weather forecasts,'' said Dr Brown.

''There are loads of them but you're talking about a very big area. It would be very unlucky if a satellite was hit. The asteroid is more likely to hit some space junk, but most of this is only about a centimetre across and the impact won't even be noticed.''

Through binoculars, the object should be visible as a tiny dot of light crossing the sky.

''It will be too faint for the naked eye but with binoculars it should be visible if you know where to look. It will be low to the north-eastern horizon and moving quite quickly," said Dr Brown.

''You'll be able to see it pass from the constellation Leo to roughly the Plough, more or less from anywhere in the UK, and it will be bright for about an hour.''

Governments may try to cover up the fact that a heavenly body - asteroid or comet - would strike the earth. But there are plenty of amatuer astronomers out there who are perfectly capable of projecting a track for either and the information would be out there anyway. There are also privately financed professional astronomers who could also be relied on to inform us if the end was near.

In short, there is very little to worry about when it comes to the near miss by 2012 DA14.


There are enough independent astronomers who have plotted the course of the asteroid due to zoom by earth barely 17,000 miles above our surface that we can be reasonably certain that we won't get slammed in a cosmic collision that would destroy civilization as we know it.

But would anyone tell us if we were going to get hit?

Scientists say there's no chance that 2012 DA14 will hit us:

Experts have calculated it will stay at least 17,200 miles (27,681km) away - easily far enough to be safe, but a very close shave in astronomical terms. Scientists have never observed such a narrow miss before.

Dr Dan Brown, from Nottingham Trent University, said telecommunication satellites - that ping data between our mobile phones - could be in danger.

Travelling at between 12,427mph (20,000kph) and 18,641mph (30,000kph) - around five miles (8km) a second, or eight times the speed of a rifle bullet - the asteroid will fly inside the orbits of high geostationary satellites some 22,000 miles (35,406km) above the Earth.

''These are the satellites that provide us with telecommunications and weather forecasts,'' said Dr Brown.

''There are loads of them but you're talking about a very big area. It would be very unlucky if a satellite was hit. The asteroid is more likely to hit some space junk, but most of this is only about a centimetre across and the impact won't even be noticed.''

Through binoculars, the object should be visible as a tiny dot of light crossing the sky.

''It will be too faint for the naked eye but with binoculars it should be visible if you know where to look. It will be low to the north-eastern horizon and moving quite quickly," said Dr Brown.

''You'll be able to see it pass from the constellation Leo to roughly the Plough, more or less from anywhere in the UK, and it will be bright for about an hour.''

Governments may try to cover up the fact that a heavenly body - asteroid or comet - would strike the earth. But there are plenty of amatuer astronomers out there who are perfectly capable of projecting a track for either and the information would be out there anyway. There are also privately financed professional astronomers who could also be relied on to inform us if the end was near.

In short, there is very little to worry about when it comes to the near miss by 2012 DA14.