February 15th, 2013
10:01 AM ET

Asteroid kind of headed toward Earth

By Jonathan Binder, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @jbinder

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

It's no Armageddon, but the planet will have a close encounter with an asteroid on Friday. Luckily it will miss the earth by about 17,200 miles. Still, that's considered close by many astronomers.

But how concerning is this event and what would happen if the unthinkable should occur? Dr. Bruce Betts of the Planetary Society, the world's largest space interest group, says this could be more common than most might think:

[3:15] "2012 DA14 [the Asteroid] is a close reminder that we do live in this cosmic shooting gallery."

According to NASA, 9,672 objects have been classified as Near Earth Objects. But Bill Nye the Science Guy says there are more out there. Nye is the CEO of the Planetary Society which provides grants to astronomers around the world to help find these asteroids:

[1:01] "We've been doing it over 15 years. The thing about this is that it takes a long time, it takes very diligent people to find these things. They're very small compared to, say, the earth. And they're like pieces of charcoal – they don't reflect very much light."

Although the timing of the asteroid fly by and the meteoric explosion that happened in Russia Friday morning is eerie, NASA says the two events are unrelated.

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Rick Conrad

    I was watching one of the major news networks and a "scientist" said don't worry we know where all the asteroids six miles in diameter are and none are going to hit us. I don't believe a true scientist would ever make such an absolute statement. Do we know???

    February 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. H. B.

    Some people have watched too many B-rated sci-fi movies. Of course we'd be told, because, if nothing else, there's no way to keep it secret in the age of the internet. Moreover, they'd only keep it secret if there was nothing they could do about it, so why get the public into a panic.

    But today there are at least three methods I can think of, any of which would probably work to deflect such a near-Earth body.

    And once the world's governments knew about it, not one of them would hesitate to pitch in to help the deflection project. Extinction events don't recognize borders, and most world leaders know at least that much. Their own rears will be in as much jeopardy as anyone else's. Suddenly, it would look like kumbaya – but only briefly, of course, till the crisis was past us.

    February 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Richard

    Dont worry, when (not if) a direct hit happens, you wont know it happened.

    February 15, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan @ CC.C

    If a large asteroid were to actually be headed for a direct hit on earth, ... Would 'they' really tell us? (Probably not.)

    February 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |