Surprise Asteroid Will Do a Close Fly-By on Halloween

Tuesday, 20 October 2015 - 11:58AM
NASA
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 - 11:58AM
Surprise Asteroid Will Do a Close Fly-By on Halloween
An unusually large and fast asteroid is pulling a trick this Halloween, as it wasn't even discovered until a few weeks ago, and now is doing the closest fly-by past earth in almost a decade.

The asteroid, named 2015 TB145, has an extremely eccentric orbit, so it wasn't discovered by astronomers until October 10. Scientists found the object using the Pan-STARRS telescope, and measured it at 280 to 620 meters in diameter, or approximately the size of a skyscraper. It is moving at 35 km/s, which NASA describes as "unusually high."

The asteroid will fly past Earth on October 31 at 1.3 lunar distances, which is the closest any object has come to Earth since 2006. After this encounter, the next closest flyby won't occur until 2027, at which time the asteroid NEO 1999 AN10 will come within one lunar distance. 

If there are clear conditions, you should be able to see the asteroid with your backyard telescopes (if you're not too busy trick or treating), as the object will reach a maximum luminosity of 10. It will be most visible in the Northern Hemisphere, although the moon will be particularly bright that night, so it may be difficult to see for amateur astronomers.
Science
Space
NASA

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