Asteroid 2012 DA14 visible in the Philippines

Great news for fellow Philippine-based observers and amateur astronomers! The Asteroid 2012 DA14, the biggest space object to get so close to the Earth since regular sky surveys began in 1990’s, will be visible from our location on its closest approach to Earth on February 16, 2013, around 3 am local time.

NEAFlybyChart_c_HeavenAbove
Star chart generated through the web site Heavens-Above showing the path of the asteroid as viewed from the Philippines and the rest of the South East Asian region

Only a pair of binoculars is needed to see the asteroid. During its closest approach, it will  peak at magnitude 7.5 (just beyond naked-eye visibility), moving at a rate of 0.8 degrees for every 45 seconds; in context, our moon’s angular diameter is just 0.5 degrees!

600px-2012da14-news174_nasa
Path of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 on its closest approach to Earth on February 15, 2013 (February 16 local time); image released to public domain by NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office

DSLR owners might also want to try to image the passage of the asteroid. A 50 mm f1.8 lens mounted on any DSLR should be powerful enough to capture it. Mount the camera onto a tripod, set the ISO to maximum (e.g. 1600), set the aperture to widest (e.g. f/1.8), focus the camera manually to infinity, set the exposure to about 3 to 6 seconds (adjust exposure as necessary), use remote shutter or the time-delay function, point the camera at the asteroid’s predicted location (refer to star chart above), then press the shutter when ready. Take photos one minute apart. Background stars will remain stationary, but the asteroid will appear as a rapidly-moving dot heading towards north.You can actually compile images and do a time lapse :)

If weather permits, I will attempt to photograph 2012 DA14 through my telescope. Follow this blog to keep you posted, or leave a note to join me in my observation. Clear skies!

For previous observations, click here.
For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

13 thoughts on “Asteroid 2012 DA14 visible in the Philippines

  1. can you please advise a neo like me where and how to set my telescope with equitorial mount to view this phenomena? pasig is my place. please help

    • Hi Virginia, just refer to the star chart provided, it will show you exactly where to look at and at what time. Using a telescope, the asteroid will look very similar to a star (a faint dot), but it will be moving very rapidly relative to the stationary background stars. Use a low power eyepiece if possible.

    • Hi Maylene,

      Even a 50 mm f1.8 lens on any DSLR camera should be powerful enough to capture it (and somehow see it through the view finder). I have posted a detailed instructions on how to image the asteroid.

  2. Thanks for the info, Sir! I’ll be waiting for it as well this Saturday. Now I wish I have a pair of binoculars with me, especially the asteroid will be moving quite fast. But I’ll use the low power eyepiece na lang as well.

  3. Can I see Asteriod DA14 with 50mm/600mm refractor telescope? I bought that telescope on CD-R KING, and it is a good telescope for me as a beginner in this field. Thanks in advance!

  4. Thanks for the tips! I was able to get some series of shots on my DSLR. Not that spectacular, but not some easy feat considering I was shooting blindly, not sure I was shooting in the right direction. I reviewed my shots after the fact, almost disappointed I didn’t get it in my frame. Luckily, my last few shots had that unmistakable streak. Thanks again!

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