'Spooky' Asteroid Will Be Very Close on Halloween

It's moving very fast in an 'eccentric' orbit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2015 2:40 AM CDT
'Spooky' Asteroid Will Be Very Close on Halloween
This asteroid came unsettlingly close to Earth just after Halloween in 2011.   (AP Photo/NASA/Cornell/Arecibo)

In what sounds like the setup to a sci-fi horror movie, an asteroid deemed "extremely eccentric" by NASA and "strikingly spooky" by Discovery will be very close to Earth on Halloween. NASA says the asteroid, 2015 TB145, is up to 1,542 feet in diameter and will be moving "unusually fast" when it comes within 310,000 miles of our planet, which is around 1.3 times the distance to the moon, the Christian Science Monitor reports. It will be at its closest just before sunrise in North America on Oct. 31, NASA says, but the waning moon will make it hard to see with small telescopes.

"The flyby presents a truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object," NASA says. The last time an asteroid this size came this close to Earth was 2006, NASA says, and there isn't another one expected until 2027—but since this one wasn't detected until Oct. 10 this year, there could be more surprises in store. NASA says the asteroid will zip by safely, and the strangeness of its orbit may explain why it was spotted so late, Gizmodo reports. (A space mission in 2022 will be a test run on preventing asteroid collisions with Earth.)

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