Earlier today, a meteorite flew over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, triggering a shock wave that injured hundreds of people and caused damage to buildings and vehicles in the area. Witnesses describe seeing a bright ball of light streak through the sky followed by a loud boom as the 10-ton meteorite entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded.
While this is a fairly uncommon event, it does happen about once a decade and it's nothing to panic over. However, the meteorite isn't the only thing space is throwing our way today, although luckily it's the only one that's actually going to hit us.
Later today (Feb. 15th), asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly past the Earth at about 17,200 miles away, which is close enough for observers in Australia, Asia and Europe to see with binoculars or a telescope.
It's about half the length of a football field, and while NASA says we have nothing to worry about (this time), if an object that size did hit the planet, it would have about the same impact of a 2.5-megaton atomic bomb, which is enough to wipe out a city if it hit in the right spot.
The asteroid will be above the eastern Indian Ocean starting at around 2:25 p.m. EST, and several websites will be hosting live feeds later in the afternoon/evening.
- 9 a.m. PST (12 p.m EST)
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is hosting a live stream on Ustream, which started at noon EST.
- 11 a.m PST (2 p.m. EST)
The JPL will host a thirty-minute program with commentary, real-time animation to show the asteroid's position as related to Earth, and any other near real-time photos and video feeds from observatories in Australia. You can watch the feed on NASA's website or Ustream.
- 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST)
The Virtual Telescope Project 2.0 will be hosting a live feed of the asteroid from Italy.
- 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. PST (6 p.m. to 4 a.m. EST)
The Clay Center Observatory in Massachusetts will be streaming a real-time high-def video on Ustream, which will be provided by a team of high school students with "extensive experience tracking and imaging asteroids."
- 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST)
The SLOOH Space Camera will be hosting several programs with video from Arizona and the Canary Islands. The shows will feature commentary from SLOOH's Paul Cox, astronomer and author Bob Berman, and Prescott Observatory manager, Matt Francis. You can watch on SLOOH's website.
- 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST)
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will be streaming a three-hour feed on Ustream where viewers will be allowed to ask the center's researchers questions via Twitter or Ustream chat.
Will you be watching? If anyone manages to catch any photos or videos of their own, be sure to share the with us!