How did Asteroid 2012 DA14 get it’s name?

Question: Why is the 2012 DA14 Asteroid called that? What does the 2012 DA14 stand for?

Answer: The reason and origin for 2012 DA14‘s particular name is all down to the system used for naming newly discovered asteroids, minor planets etc. So how do asteroids get their catchy names?

It all comes down to when the object was discovered, for 2012 DA14 this was on February 23, 2012.

First of all, the simple bit. The number at the beginning represents the year in which the discovery was made, in this case, 2012.

Now where things get a little less clear. The first letter represents which half-month, of that year the asteroid was found. 24 letters from A to Y (with no I) are assigned to each half-month of the year. The 1st to 15th of the month counts as the first half with the 16th and on being the second half.

Therefore this asteroid being found on the 23rd of February (in the second half of February) gets assigned a D. The fourth half-month of the year, D=4.

Finally the second letter in the name and the following numbers are all based on how many other asteroids etc had already been found during that half-month. In this case, there had already been 350 discoveries in the second half of February, 2012, meaning this was the 351st.

This time the letters A to Z (again no I) represent the numbers 1-25 (A=1, Z=25), nice and easy back when there were never more than 25 discoveries made in a single half-month.

So these days numbers are added on to allow for discoveries 26 and over. The number on the end of the name now represents a larger number, going up in 25’s, 0=0, 1=25, 2=50, 3=75, 4=100, 5=125 etc.

Therefore in DA14, the 351st discovery in that half-month the 14=350 and the A=1 so you get A14. Yes it is a little backwards, 14A would perhaps make more sense.

Summary

When you put that all together you get: Discovery Year: 2012, Discovery Half-Month D, Discovery Number A14.

Asteroid 2012 DA14, obvious when you think about eh?

2012 DA14 will pass within about 35,000 miles of Earth on February 15, 2013.

So if you lose your TV signal that day, don’t adjust your dish. It may only be a simply case of the satellite getting wiped out.

Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook