skysafari 2012A14On Friday, February 15th, a 45-meter wide asteroid named 2012 DA14 will pass within 17,200 miles of Earth – closer than our orbiting geosynchronous communication satellites. It’s an historic event that amateurs worldwide will be watching.

AWB partner Southern Stars has released an update to its SkySafari Plus and Pro apps for iOS, Mac OS X, and Android that will allow real-time tracking of the asteroid during its close approach to Earth.  It’s the only app that calculates the asteroid’s position dynamically, taking into account Earth's gravity as it passes.  Developed with assistance from solar system dynamicists at NASA’s JPL, the app computes positions continuously, a first for a mobile device.

2012 DA14 will not be visible to the naked eye, but amateur astronomers with larger backyard telescopes should be able to catch a glimpse through clear, dark skies.  Sky Safari Plus and Pro (but not the Basic version) show various simulations of the asteroid from different vantage points, including the view from the asteroid itself.  The app is on sale for 30% off the usual price from February 14 to 17.