#HappyHalloween from space: Giant asteroid to flyby earth on Halloween
Seems like space too was in a mood for Halloween this year as a giant asteroid creepily crawled towards earth and ‘spooked’ out the observers as it was detected just 21 days before its closest earth approach. Upon its closest approach to Earth, the space rock — dubbed asteroid 2015 TB145 — will zipp past planet Earth at a blazing speed of 78,000 miles per hour with 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.
Scientists are treating the flyby of the estimated 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity, allowing instruments on “spacecraft Earth” to scan it during the close pass. 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.
Online observatory Slooh will be hosting the event live starting at 12:30 pm ET. The broadcast will offer expert commentary by Slooh host Paul Cox, Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, and Slooh friend, Dr. Mark Boslough. The broadcast will also show time-lapse images of the asteroid. You can submit your questions to the Slooh folks about this spooky flyby on Twitter using #SpookyWeek. “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.”
“The trajectory of 2015 TB145 is well understood,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “At the point of closest approach, it will be no closer than about 300,000 miles — 480,000 kilometers or 1.3 lunar distances. Even though that is relatively close by celestial standards, it is expected to be fairly faint, so night-sky Earth observers would need at least a small telescope to view it.”
The gravitational influence of the asteroid is so small it will have no detectable effect on the moon or anything here on Earth, including our planet’s tides or tectonic plates.