Fright night flyby: Skyscraper-sized asteroid will pass Earth on Halloween
A skyscraper-sized asteroid will fly by Earth on Halloween, according to scientists, who say that the object was only discovered 10 days ago.
Asteroid 2015 TB145 was discovered Oct. 10 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System 1 (Pan-STARRS-1) in Hawaii.
“This is the closest approach by a known object this large until 1999 AN10 approaches within 1 lunar distance in August 2027,” said NASA, in a report. “The flyby presents a truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object.”
Lunar distance, or the average distance between the Earth and the moon, is about 239,000 miles.
EarthSky reports that the asteroid will pass Earth at a safe distance of 310,000 miles, travelling at a speed of 78,000 mph. 2015 TB145 is about 1,542 feet in diameter, according to EarthSky, which notes that estimates range between 689 to 2,133 feet. Amateur astronomers, it added, may be able to see the asteroid using telescopes of 8-inch diameter and larger on the night of Oct. 30, and before dawn on Oct. 31.
The fact that astronomers only discovered 2015 TB145 three weeks before its Earth flyby, however, highlights the risks that asteroids pose. NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program works with astronomers and scientists around the world to look for asteroids that could harm Earth. NASA also has an ambitious plan to capture and redirect an asteroid.
Given their cataclysmic potential it’s hardly surprising that asteroids remain a source of fascination for many people. In August NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory nixed rumors swirling around the Internet of an asteroid impact between sometime between Sept. 15 and 28, 2015.