Cosmic Halloween Treat: Giant Asteroid To Whiz Past Earth On October 31

A graphical representation of an asteroid clashing against earth. An asteroid is going to whiz past earth on Halloween day.

With Halloween just around the corner, NASA has announced that earthlings are going to get a special cosmic treat: an asteroid is going to whiz past earth on October 31, and it is going to do so at an unusually high speed.

According to Telegraph, NASA spotted the giant asteroid, titled 2015 TB145, a fortnight ago and expects it to miss Earth by a whisker, traveling at an electric speed of 78,000 mph as it flies by our planet. This will be the closest an asteroid will come to collision since 2006, and NASA expects the rare occurrence to not take place again at least for another decade.

“This is the closest approach by a known object this large until 1999 AN10 approaches within 1 lunar distance in August 2027,” NASA said.

Usually, NASA is able to tell if an asteroid is to fly past Earth well in advance, but on this occasion, the extreme eccentricity of its orbit has meant the space agency could not decipher the asteroid’s movement up until two weeks before Halloween, the day when it is going to be closest to earth’s surface. “The asteroid is on an extremely eccentric and a high inclination orbit,” NASA officials confirmed.

An artist captures the moment when debris flies past earth.

In other words, 2015 TB145 may be a lot more scary than any of the other asteroids that have crossed paths with Earth in the last several decades.

Announcing its approach, however, NASA also said that the asteroid has not been classified as “potentially hazardous,” but its mere size, 300 meters in diameter, and extreme proximity to earth, means one cannot ever be too certain. If an asteroid of such a size and traveling at such breakneck speed was to hit Earth, the force generated could be enough to wipe out a few small countries, if not the entire world. Under the present conditions, however, we should not be worried.

“WISE and radar observations discussed above show that the diameter is probably at least 300 meters, so it’s large enough to be ‘potentially hazardous’ even though it isn’t classified as such.”

Though the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, star-gazers and space enthusiasts will be pleased to know that they can catch a glimpse of 2015 TB145 as it whizzes past Earth on Halloween using high-end telescopes. If you are not too busy trick-or-treating, that is.

Pictured above is a tiny astronaut next to earth.

[Photo by Wilerson S Andrade/Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0 license]