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Tech Thursday – Asteroid 2005 YU55 To Pass Earth Inside Moon’s Orbit

It’s not often we get an extraterritorial visitor here on the good old Earth. But according to NASA, on November 8th, Asteroid 2005 YU55 will make a pass inside the Moon’s orbit, and scientists are not wasting the opportunity to study it up close as it “whooshes” by us.

Radar Image of 2005 YU55
Photo: NASA/Cornell/Arecibo

The asteroid is about the size of an aircraft carrier and it’s approach will bring it to a little over 200,000 miles from the Earth. This is the closest approach of this body in 200 years. Scientists say there won’t be any effect on the Earth from the asteroid’s gravitational pull. NASA plans to start studying it starting at 9:30am PST starting November 4th. Radar stations will track the asteroid every 4 hours.

They are also planning on bouncing radio waves off of the asteroid and say they will be able to get pictures of the rock as close as 7 feet per pixel, giving us very detailed pictures of the surface. The overall shape of YU55 is spherical and it’s spinning at a rate of one rotation every 18 hours. Scientists say the color of the surface is a dark charcoal color at visible wavelengths of light, so to see it, they need a telescope with an aperture of 6 inches.

For amateur astronomers, I can only imagine this will be a very exciting and fun time. As for the rest of us, this will most likely be on the news for a couple days. There is also, NASA TV, where I would expect some excellent coverage of the event for the next few days. I’ll be tuning in myself to check it out. Anyone planning on watching?

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