Local star gazers look for asteroid passing by earth

Asteroid is closest of its size to pass near our plane

Author: Cory Smith, Reporter, csmith@ksat.com
Published On: Feb 15 2013 10:17:13 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 15 2013 10:54:49 PM CST

An asteroid half the size of a football field, traveling eight times faster than a speeding bullet, came 17,100 miles from the surface of the earth Friday afternoon.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is the closest asteroid of its size to come that close to earth in history.

The San Antonio League of Sidewalk Astronomers (SALSA) gathered on a hilltop in Bulverde to try to get a glimpse of the large rock, but cloud cover and wind made it impossible.

"We had a chance to see it as it was leaving the vicinity of the earth," said SALSA member Bryan Tobias. "It was going to be very faint, so that’s the reason we have some of our bigger telescopes out here tonight."

The asteroid's close-shave with earth happened at approximately 1:24 pm Friday.

Meanwhile in Russia, fragments from a 7,700 ton meteor slammed into the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring nearly 1,000 people.

"I would have loved to have been around to see it," said SALSA member Nina Chevalier. "I'm just glad there wasn't further damage and that it didn't stay together when it hit the ground."

Scientists said even though they happened on the same day, the two events are not linked.

"Absolute cosmic coincidence," said Tobias.

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