An asteroid that scientists at NASA are calling “the great pumpkin” will pass unsettlingly close to Earth tomorrow on Halloween.
In fact, it will be the closest approach by an asteroid this size until asteroid 1999 AN10 passes by in 2027.
The Halloween asteroid, more accurately known as 2015 TB145, will come within 480,000 kilometres of Earth, or 1.3 lunar distances, according to Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Even though that is relatively close by celestial standards, it is expected to be fairly faint, so night-sky Earth observers would need at least a small telescope to view it,” he said.
“The trajectory of 2015 TB145 is well understood.”
2015 TB145 was discovered on October 10 and is only about 400 metres wide. NASA is using the asteroid as a “science target of opportunity” and will use instruments to scan it as it passes by.
The asteroid is small enough that it shouldn’t have any affect on Earth’s gravitational pull, moons, or tides, says NASA. It will pass by Earth at 10:01 a.m. Pacific Time.
For an explanation of 2015 TB145’s trajectory and the instruments they will use to scan it, watch the video below: