Near impact: Asteroid to pass PH skies

Posted at 02/13/2013 4:01 PM | Updated as of 02/13/2013 7:57 PM

MANILA - An asteroid roughly the size of an Olympic swimming pool will be whizzing past the earth at breakneck speed on February 15 at around 11:24 am Pacific Standard Time (PST).

The space rock is classified as a Near Earth Asteroid (NEO) with an official designation 2012 DA14. But don't fret: experts say there is no chance that the asteroid will strike the planet.

"Daraan siya malapit sa earth. In fact, mas malapit pa ito sa ilang mga weather at communications satellites natin. Pero tuluy-tuloy lang dapat ang buhay dahil hindi ito makakaapekto sa atin," said Mario Raymundo, Weather Specialist 2 at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)

2012 DA14 is travelling at a speed of 7.8 kilometers per second, which is 8 times the speed of a rifle bullet. If it strikes the earth, it will release energy equivalent to 2.4 million tons of TNT.

Given its relatively small size and speed, and because it will appear over Philippine skies during daytime, PAGASA said it will be very difficult to spot the asteroid using the naked eye.

"Di makikita ng mata natin kasi yung brightness niya masyadong mahina. Kung gagamit ng telescope, mahirap i-track kasi mabilis. Pinakamainam na yung binoculars sa mga experienced astronomers," he said.

Such close flybys with asteroids the size of 2012 DA14 occur only every 40 years.