Asteroid will orbit near earth ... and you can experience it - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Asteroid will orbit near earth ... and you can experience it, sort of

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

In one week – on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 – a massive asteroid will fly uncomfortably close to earth.

It's called Asteroid 2012 DA14 and it is half the length of a football field, weighing 130,000 metric tons and traveling 17,000 miles per hour.

It's going to be a close shave. The asteroid will actually will be passing between the earth and the ring of satellites that feed us television programming and GPS coordinates.

"Asteroids this size – the one we're talking about for next week – can destroy a city, not a planet," said Dr. Carolyn Sumners with the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

In fact, on June 30, 1908, an asteroid of similar size smacked into Siberia, flattening 820 square miles and destroying 80 million trees. Luckily, that area was sparsely populated.

"Thank goodness it hit Siberia," said Dr. Sumners. "If it had been a little bit later, might've hit Saint Petersburg. And Saint Petersburg would be gone."

According to NASA, there is no chance whatsoever that Asteroid 2012 DA14 will impact our planet next week.

"Its orbit is very well known," said Don Yeomans with NASA's Near-Earth Objects Office. "We know exactly where it's going to go and it cannot hit the earth."

But if you'd like to have a "close encounter" with the upcoming close call, the Houston Museum of Natural Science has just the exhibit for you.

Beginning with this Friday's 1:30 p.m. showing, the Planetarium's "Starry Night Express" will include new animation of Asteroid 2012 DA14's approach, along with a visualization of the direct hit in Siberia, 105 years ago.

For more information on "Starry Night Express," visit http://www.hmns.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&Itemid=108

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