How to watch the 'spooky' asteroid flying unusually close to Earth on Halloween
And you won't want to miss this Halloween's rare sight!On Saturday at 1:05 pm ET, an asteroid that could be up to 2.5 times taller than Trump World Tower in New York City will zip past Earth at a blazing speed of 78,000 miles per hour.Advertisement
Upon its closest approach to Earth, the space rock - dubbed asteroid 2015 TB145 - will pass by at 1.3 times the distance between Earth and the moon, or about 300,000 miles from Earth.
Therefore, the asteroid poses no threat to life on Earth.It is worth noting, however, that the event will mark the closest any object this size has flown by Earth in recorded history, NASA reported.
And we won't see anything like it again until the year 2027, when a different asteroid twice as large will fly even closer at just one lunar distance, or approximately 238,000 miles, from Earth.Unfortunately, the asteroid is too small and far away to see with the naked eye - especially during its closest approach on Halloween in the middle of the afternoon. However, if you have a set of binoculars or a telescope, you could spot it that night.The asteroid will be above the western horizon on Halloween night between 9 pm ET and midnight. After that, it will sink below the horizon an no longer be visible.Advertisement
Here, we used thee free app Stellarium to figure out where it would be in New York City at exactly 10 pm ET on Halloween night. To help identify it, look for the bright star Vega. (Universe Today has excellent instructions on how to use Stellarium to figure out where the asteroid will be in your night sky on Halloween.)
An asteroid named "Spooky"
This asteroid's size, speed, and distance from Earth are not what have earned it the nickname "Spooky."The GIF below reveals the asteroid's movement across the sky in a series of images taken over the last week by one of Slooh's observatories in the Canary Islands:Advertisement
"It's frightening to think an asteroid this size, approaching so close to Earth, was discovered only 21-days before its closest approach, which just happens to be on Halloween," Cox said in a statement. "If that doesn't give you chills, nothing will."On Oct. 10, observers at the University of Hawaii's Panoramic Survey Telescope first discovered Spooky. Their observations were quickly confirmed by astronomers at the European Space Agency's observatory in Tenerife, Spain, shown below:Advertisement
Moreover, "Spooky" has a bizarre orbit that's very oblong in shape and takes it well below the plane of the solar system, where all of the planets or located (as shown in the diagram below).
The European Space Agency said that Earth needn't worry about a collision from this particular object within the next 100 years.Advertisement
Such an impact wouldn't cause a global extinction, but it could do significant damage depending on where it hit, Brown wrote.
During its close pass, astronomers plan to study the object further using radar technology that shoots electromagnetic waves at the space rock. How long those signals take to reflect off the surface and return to Earth will give astronomers a better idea of the chemical composition of the object.
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