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Monday, November 7, 2011

Huge Asteroid to Pass Within 201,000 Miles of Earth this November

Radar image of Asteroid 2005 YU55 generated from data
taken in April 2010 by the Arecibo Radar Telescope in
Puerto Rico.
It's confirmed by NASA, a 1,312-feet in diameter asteroid will soon pass Earth within 201,000 miles of Earth, a distance closer than the Earth's distance from the moon, and it will pass this November 8 at 6:28 p.m. EST (11:28 GMT) or around 7:28 a.m. of November 9 here in the Philippines.

The object will be visible from the northern hemisphere, although it will be too dim and far away to see with the naked eye.

Astronomer Scott Fisher, a program director with the National Science Foundation said Thursday during a Web chat with reporters that "It is the first time since 1976 that an object of this size has passed this closely to the Earth. It gives us a great -- and rare -- chance to study a near-Earth object like this."

"The orbit and position of the asteroid is well known," added senior research scientist Don Yeomans, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"There is no chance that this object will collide with the Earth or moon," Yeomans said.

The asteroid would be difficult to spot and it will be moving too fast for viewing by the Hubble Space Telescope.

"The best time to observe it would be in the early evening on November 8 from the East Coast of the United States," Yeoman's said. "It is going to be very faint, even at its closest approach. You will need a decent-sized telescope to be able to actually see the object as it flies by."

Scientists suspect that YU 55 has been visiting Earth for thousands of years, but because gravitational tugs from the planets occasionally tweak its path, they cannot tell for sure how long the asteroid has been in its present orbit.

"These sorts of events have been happening for most of the lifetime of the Earth, about 4.5 billion years," Fisher said.

Video about Asteroid 2005 YU 55

Computer models showing the asteroid's path for the next 100 years show there is no chance it will hit Earth during that time, added Yeomans.

"We do not think that it will ever impact the Earth or moon, but we only have its orbit calculated for the next 100 years," he said.

According to previous studies, the asteroid, which is blacker than charcoal, is a C-type asteroid that is likely made of carbon-based materials and some silicate rock.


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