There’s an asteroid that’s set to buzz Earth on Halloween. But don’t panic.
The asteroid —; 2015 TB145 —; was only discovered on Oct. 10. While the roughly 400-metre-wide asteroid will be “buzzing” Earth, the distance is still safely away from Earth at 490,000 km.
Still, that’s fairly close for an object that size. And its speed is “unusually high” according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) moving at about 35 kilometres a second.
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In fact, JPL said that this is the closest known approach by something this size until 1999 AN10 passes within one lunar distance (384,400 km) in August 2027. The last object of this size to pass this close was in 2006.
To put it in perspective, the asteroid that broke apart over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2013 causing injuries to more than 1,000 people was believed to be about 19 metres wide. The asteroid that is widely believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs, though, is thought to have been about 10 km wide, which left behind a 180-km-wide crater in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Interestingly, at one time, NASA believed that there was a small chance that 1999 AN10 could pose a danger to Earth. But, as happens with astrophysics and calculating orbits of celestial bodies, further observation allowed scientists to refine its orbit and calculate that, though it would pass very near Earth, it was no longer in danger of colliding with Earth.
NASA’s Near Earth Object Program searches for and tracks potentially hazardous asteroids (PHA) and comets that pose a threat to Earth. To date there are 1,629 of these objects, with none believed to pose a threat of colliding with us.
Asteroid 2015 TB145 will be moving across the sky in the constellation Taurus at the time of closest approach on Oct. 31 at 7:12 a.m. EDT. It will likely be difficult to see in small telescopes as it will be close to the moon.