By Justin Drabick
This evening at 6:28PM, Asteroid 2005 YU-55 zoomed by Earth and had astronomers and observers in a frenzy. What makes this asteroid so special is that it passed closer to Earth than anything else that’s passed in a very long time. A couple hundred thousand miles up in space, YU-55 is about the size of an aircraft carrier and poses no threat to our planet this time around. It won’t collide with Earth for at least a Century but its close proximity and large size has scientists curious.
The asteroid was discovered 6 years ago and telescopes around the country have been tracking it. NASA’s Goldstone radio telescope in California has really wonderful hi resolution radar that will show us all sorts of things about the shape, size, speed and surface features and that will help us better understand how these form and where they come from.
The space rock is passing between the Earth and the Moon tonight and the last time an object this size passed within the moon’s orbit was back in 1976. Unfortunately, you will not be able to see it with the naked eye and you’ll need at least a 6 inch telescope under a dark sky to check it out. This will be found out in the direction of the constellation Pegasus and it will be moving around 30,000 miles per hour.