2012 DA14 Near Earth Asteroid Image Caught by Australian Astronomer, Watch Sky 4.30am AEDT Feb 16

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By Arlene Paredes | February 15, 2013 10:40 AM EST

An amateur astronomer from Australia has caught a preview image of the near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 on Feb 13. If you are a stargazing enthusiast and you have instruments for space observation, you might want to wake up early on Feb. 16 to watch the sky from 4:30am (AEDT).

When asteroid 2012 DA14 comes closest to Earth, it will be about 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers) above the surface. In contrast, the moon is over 240,000 miles away. The asteroid is relatively very close, but "2012 DA14 is expected to fly safely by the Earth," NASA said.

News of a near-Earth asteroid can potentially cause anxiety, but NASA clarified this weekend's close shave with 2012 DA14 will be "harmless." Meanwhile, experts are suggesting an early wakeup call for stargazing Aussies on Feb. 16. Those with binoculars or space observation instruments can look under the Southern Cross or Crux constellation from 4.30am AEDT. You can also watch the asteroid online.

2012 DA14 Asteroid Watch: Guide for Australians

An image of the near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 was caught by an Australian amateur astronomer. The image above was submitted to NASA by Australian amateur astronomer Dave Herald of Murrumbateman. Herald took an image of asteroid 2012 DA14 as a barely distinguishable speck in the space. The image is an overlay of 12 one-minute exposures. Asteroid DA14 is the small dot at the center of the frame. The white streaks are stars trailed in relation to the motion of the asteroid. At the time, the asteroid was 770,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) away. It was taken just past midnight (AEDT) on Feb. 13, 2013 (Feb. 12 morning in the United States).

WHEN: At what time will near Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 be closest to the planet?

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be closest to planet Earth on Feb. 15 at about 19:24 GMT (Feb. 16, 6:24 am AEDT), when it will be at a distance of about 27,700 km. (17,200 miles) above the Earth's surface.

The weekend flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object of its size.

Want to hear a lecture on 2012 DA14? Tune in to NASA

Scientists, amateur astronomers and stargazers are expected to observe as closely as possible the asteroid passibg by Earth Friday. The 150-foot-wide (45 meters) asteroid 2012 DA14 will be just 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) from Earth

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will be discussing the asteroid from 11 a.m. PST via NASA TV. The talk will be streamed live online at this link.

VIDEO: Record-Setting Asteroid Flyby (ScienceAtNASA)

"I wonder how many superstitious [people] that were afraid of the Mayan Apocalypse know about DA14? Ignorance is not only bliss,but sadly popular," reads one comment on YouTube.

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