If you’ve been dying to see the biggest Asteroid that has flown past this close to the earth since 1976, Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 is your night. You’ll need a telescope and the ability to be outside at 6:28pm EST, 5:28pm CST, 4:28pm MST and 3:28pm PST. The best place to be in the United States is on the East coast when Asteroid 2005 YU55 zooms past earth.
Newly released images from NASA have been provided of the asteroid and were taken on November 7th, 2011 at 2:45pm EST. When the picture was taken the space rock was 3.6 lunar distances from Earth which translates into 860,000 miles or 1.38 million kilometers from the surface of the Earth.
The size of this big asteroid is bigger than the size of an air craft carrier used by the US Navy. The exact size is 1,300 feet across and will zoom past earth only 197,000 miles away. The moons orbit is actually closer to Earth than the distance YU55 will flyby. If you don’t catch a glimpse of asteroid YU55 you’ll have to wait until the year 2028 to see an asteroid fly by this close.
Astronomers that are interested in catching this historic asteroid flyby will need to have a mirror telescope that has a mirror bigger than 6″ to see it. Jon Giorgini is a senior analyst with the Solar System Dynamics Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA and was interviewed by National Geographic News. Mr. Giorgini mentioned that most new telescopes these days have motors in them that actually, “cancel out the rotation of the Earth, so they rotate at a rate that compensates for teh spinning of the Earth, so they can remain fixed on a patch of sky.”
There are many speculations going around on the Internet that the 2005 YU55 will crash into the Earth or that it will collide with the moon. While the asteroid would create a lot of damage to Earth it isn’t big enough that it would do anything like put the whole Earth into a nuclear winter type event. There is no reason to worry about the rumors of collision into Earth as asteroid 2005 YU55 has been studied closely. This asteroid also has no connection with the Elenin comet that fizzled out recently.
The Arecibo Planetary Radar Facility in Puerto Rico will start radar observations on November 8th, 2011 which is when it will cruise by Earth. We’ll update the site tomorrow with more recent pictures as amateur astronomers and NASA update us with more pictures and observations of this huge Asteroid spinning by Earth.
This video will provide you a demonstration of all trajectory views of Asteroid 2005 YU55: