Even though there's no chance that the asteroid known as DA14 will hit earth on Feb. 15, that doesn't mean you should ignore it.

The flyby, in which the massive space rock will come within 17,200 miles of our planet, is a unique event, and we've compiled a slideshow of essential information about it.

You may have heard that the White House-sized asteroid will whiz by the earth faster than a speeding bullet, but did you that it will come closer to our planet than many orbiting satellites? What about how it's planning a return trip later this century? And what would happen -- hypothetically -- if an asteroid the size of DA14 really did hit?

If you're in Europe, Asia, Africa or Australia, all you'll need to see DA14 pass by earth is a pair of strong binoculars. Skywatchers can view the flyby in Europe and Africa on the night of Feb. 15, and in Asia and Australia on the morning of Feb. 16.

Enthusiasts in the Americas won't be able to see the flyby live, but click through the slideshow to find out where and how you can watch a live stream.

Editor's Note: The DA14 flyby is unrelated to the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15, according to NASA.


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  • How Big Is It?

    DA14 is about 150 feet wide, which is about the same size as the White House.

  • How Fast Is It Going?

    DA14 will speed past the earth at about five miles per second -- approximately <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/9856539/Nasa-2012-DA14-asteroid-will-not-impact-Earth.html">eight times as fast</a> as a bullet from a rifle.

  • How Close Will It Get?

    The asteroid will pass within 17,200 miles of earth. In comparison, geosynchronous satellites orbit the earth at an altitude of 22,300 miles. In the image at left, each white dot represents a satellite --with the horizontal ring of dots indicating satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Don't worry -- DA14 isn't expected to collide with any satellites.

  • Return Trip

    DA14 will make a repeat appearance in 2046, when it will pass about 620,000 miles from earth -- that's about three times the distance to the moon. The asteroid's orbit around the sun is similar to earth's, which means it comes relatively close to our planet <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/11/asteroid_2012_da14_space_rock_will_miss_the_earth_by_17_000_miles.html">twice each orbit</a>.

  • When Was DA14 Discovered?

    <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/asteroidflyby.html">DA14 was discovered</a> on Feb. 23, 2012 by astronomers at the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca in Spain. At left, an early observation of the asteroid.

  • If It Hit...

    There's no chance that DA14 will hit earth, but if it did, we might be in trouble. In 1908, a space rock about the same size as DA14 struck Tunguska, Russia, <a href="http://www.livescience.com/27000-flyby-asteroid-da14-tunguska.html">leveling an area of about 800 square miles</a> and releasing as much energy as 185 Hiroshima bombs. A direct hit of this magnitude could easily wipe out a major city.

  • Other Near-Earth Objects

    D14 isn't the only asteroid in the sky. NASA is tracking 9,693 <a href="http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/faq/#howmany">so-called Near-Earth objects</a>. Of these, 1,378 are classified by NASA/JPL as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids. That means they're large enough and will come close enough to earth to merit further observation.

  • Frequency

    How often do asteroids the size of DA14 hit the earth? About once <a href="http://www.livescience.com/27000-flyby-asteroid-da14-tunguska.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Livesciencecom+(LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed)">every 1000-2000 years</a>, according to Mark Boslough, a physicist at Sandia National Laboratories.

  • What's It's Made Of?

    DA14 is probably made of iron, magnesium, silicon and other metals, <a href="http://www.space.com/19758-asteroid-worth-billions-2012-da14-flyby.html">Michael Busch, a Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory</a>, told SPACE.com. There may also be ice clinging to the asteroid. If the asteroid were on earth, the water and metals might be worth nearly $200 billion, <a href="http://www.space.com/19758-asteroid-worth-billions-2012-da14-flyby.html">according to officials</a> at Deep Space Industries, a company that hopes to one day mine asteroids.

  • How To Watch

    You can watch a live broadcast from NASA on HuffPost Science starting at 2 p.m. EST on Feb. 15.