Later today, a large asteroid known as 2012 DA14 will pass within about 17,200 miles of the Earth, marking the closest pass ever observed for an object its size. Measuring about 164 feet in diameter, the asteroid is expected to approach the Earth at around 2 PM ET today, before reaching its peak brightness at 2:24 PM. It won't be bright enough to see with the naked eye, but as Wired reports, there are several ways to watch the event online.
NASA will begin streaming the event at 2 PM ET / 11 AM PT, providing live views from telescopes in Europe and Australia, along with ongoing commentary for several hours afterward. It will also be capturing imagery from California's Goldstone Observatory, in the hopes of gleaning more precise information on its size and shape. Real-time images will also be available from the Bareket Observatory in Israel between 2 PM and 3:30 PM ET, as well as from the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, beginning at 5 PM ET / 2 PM PT. We've embedded NASA's stream below.
Others will be capturing the asteroid as it moves away from the Earth. The Clay Center Observatory will begin covering the event on its Ustream page from 6 PM to 4 AM ET, while NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will provide three hours of coverage beginning at 9 PM ET. Slooh, meanwhile, will be covering the event with two live programs. The first begins at 9 PM ET, and the second kicks off at midnight ET.
This smorgasbord of streams speaks to how truly unique today's event will be. Experts say the asteroid will be roughly equivalent in size to the rock that caused the Tunguska event in 1908, which unleashed enormous explosions across remote portions of Russia. Fortunately, there's no chance that DA14 will actually strike Earth, though it will cross paths with several geosynchronous satellites orbiting at around 22,200 miles above the surface. The satellites are mostly used for GPS, communication, and meteorology, but according to the Space Data Association, DA14 poses no threat to any of them.
Update: And yet, an unrelated meteor does indeed appear to have struck Russia today. Follow the story here.