Hawaii telescope discovers asteroid to zoom by Earth on Halloween
There are three things worth mentioning about this asteroid, referred to as 2015 TB145, that was discovered by a Hawaii telescope this month:
1. It’s 300-400 meters wide (920 to 2,035 feet in diameter—the size of a skyscraper) and flying past Earth at approximately 1:12 p.m. EDT.
2. It’s being described as “unusually fast” by NASA, clocking it at 126,000 kilometers per hour. Or 35 kilometers a second. Translation: 22 miles each second.
3. It’s the closest Near-Earth Object our planet has seen since 2006
Due to its velocity, scientists had a difficult time tracking the asteroid down, but Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) on Maui’s Haleakala managed to pin 2015 TB145 down.
Now before you start packing your bags and looking up apartments on mars.craigslist.com, take a deep, steady breath. While in the scope of the entire expanse of the solar system this is considered to be “close” to Earth’s orbit, it’s still measured at a distance of 1.3 lunar distances from us—meaning it’ll be closer to the moon than it will ever be to our planet.
However that distance still excites scientists presenting an opportunity to capture highly detailed radar images of the object—to confirm its size, shape and composition.
2015 TB145 won’t be visible to the naked eye. But if you’re a stargazer equipped with a telescope, you’ll probably be able to see it, clear skies permitting.
The next time a large asteroid will pass us again will be in August 2027 and that one is expected to be within one lunar distance, according to NASA.