On Tuesday, Earth and our moon will get a surprise cosmic visit from 2005 YU55, an asteroid roughly the size of an aircraft carrier – or, to be more specific, an asteroid 1,300 feet long.
Before you work yourself into a panic and brace for the end of the world (as we know it), there’s no threat of planet Earth actually being hit by the asteroid. It will come relatively close to us – around 200,000 miles apart at its closest, which would be closer than our own moon is to us – but it’s not nearly close enough to cause concern of a collision.
While there may be no danger of any sort of cosmic crash involving the 2005 YU55 asteroid, it’s still the largest asteroid to get this close to our home planet since 1976, NASA says. It will also be the last asteroid of any notable size to pass close to us until 2028.
You’ll be able to observe 2005 YU55 in the night sky, but not with your naked eye – you’ll need the right tools first. Space.com notes that in order to see the object, you’ll need a telescope with at least a 6-inch mirror. Not only that, you’ll need to be quick about it.
“It turns out that YU55 is going to be pretty faint when it flies by,” said Scott Fisher, program director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences. “To make it even more difficult to observe … it will be moving VERY quickly across the sky as it passes.”
Fisher went on to explain that your best chance to catch a glimpse of 2005 YU55 is early in the evening on November 8th, with the best vantage point being on the East Coast of the US. To help you keep track of it, the asteroid’s coordinates will be made available on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website at this link.
[Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]