AN ASTEROID capable of destroying London will skim past the Earth on Friday, approaching closer than many satellites.
Scientists say they are sure there is no chance of the 150ft-wide space rock hitting the planet. But there is a remote possibility that it could collide with one of more than 100 telecommunication and weather satellites in fixed orbits above the Earth.
The asteroid, “2012 DA14”, has been closely tracked since its discovery a year ago. It is predicted to reach its nearest point to the Earth at around 7:30pm UK time on Friday.
Experts have calculated it will stay at least 17,200 miles (27,681 km) away – easily far enough to be safe, but a very close shave in astronomical terms. Scientists have never observed such a narrow miss before.
Through binoculars, the object should be visible as a tiny dot of light crossing the sky.
Astronomer and asteroid expert Dr Dan Brown, from Nottingham Trent University, said: “It will be too faint for the naked eye, but, with binoculars, it should be visible if you know where to look. It will be low to the north-eastern horizon and moving quite quickly.
“You’ll be able to see it pass from the constellation Leo to roughly the Plough, more or less from anywhere in the UK, and it will be bright for about an hour.”