Giant asteroid makes near miss by earth Tuesday

2005 YU255

by Jack Minor –

A large asteroid will be passing by the earth at a distance closer than the moon Tuesday, November 12.

The asteroid, 2005 YU55, will reach its closest point to the earth November 8 at 4:28 p.m. YU255 is approximately 1,312 feet in diameter and at its closest point it will be no closer than 201,700 miles, which is 0.85 the distance from the earth to the moon, according to NASA.

The approach of YU255 has been well known and NASA is planning to take advantage of this opportunity. The last time an asteroid came this close was 1976, however, astronomers did not know about its approach at the time. The next object scheduled to approach this close will not occur until 2028.

In order to help determine the asteroid’s composition, scientists will use antennas at the Deep Space Network in Goldstone, Calif. as well as the large radio telescope at Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico to bounce radio waves off the asteroid.

This is not the first time we will have had an encounter with this asteroid. Scientists say YU255 is in an orbit that regularly brings it near  the earth. They have said this is the closest approach in over 200 years.

Several web sites are predicting the asteroid will either collide with the earth or cause large tsunamis due to its gravity. Many scientists believe a collision with a similar asteroid was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

However, NASA has said that none of the doomsayer’s predictions will occur. The gravitational effect on Earth’s tides and tectonic plates is expected to be miniscule.

Those wishing to see YU255 will need a decent-sized telescope according to Don Yeomans, a senior research scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The asteroid will be moving too fast to be photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

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