Freakishly Fast Asteroid To Buzz Past Earth On Halloween
A large asteroid first discovered by scientists only two weeks ago is set to scream past Earth on Halloween — the closest encounter our planet has had with an asteroid in nearly a decade.
While the asteroid, dubbed 2015 TB145, does not present a threat, it will come within 310,000 miles of Earth — nearly as close as our own moon — and zoom past at an “unusually high” speed of more than 78,000 miles per hour, according to NASA.
The chunk of rock was spotted Oct. 10 by the Pan-STARRS I telescope, located atop the Hawaiian island of Maui and used to discover and characterize objects that might pose a danger to Earth.
In its report, NASA said the flyby presents a “truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object.”
“This is the closest approach by a known object this large until 1999 AN10 approaches within 1 lunar distance in August 2027,” the space agency wrote. NASA said the last time an asteroid of this size zoomed this close was in July 2006.
Preliminary estimates indicate 2015 TB145 is about 1,542 feet in diameter — 28 times larger than the Chelyabinsk meteor that penetrated the atmosphere over Russia in 2013, EarthSky reports. It will travel across the constellation of Orion on the night of Oct. 30-31, with its closest approach of 1.3 lunar distances to Earth occurring around 11:14 a.m. ET on Oct. 31.
The asteroid won’t be visible to the naked eye. Amateur astronomers may be able to see it using telescopes eight inches in diameter or larger.
In August, Internet rumors were claiming an asteroid was going to hit Earth this fall. But NASA quickly squashed those.
“(There) is no existing evidence that an asteroid or any other celestial object is on a trajectory that will impact Earth,” Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a release. “In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century.”