Asteroid Expected to Have “Close Encounter” with Earth Next Week

The planet Earth

If you’re an amateur astronomer, get your telescope ready for Tuesday.

That’s the day a large asteroid is expected to pass by our planet, approximately 200,000 miles away.

That might sound like a long distance.

But it’s closer than the distance between the Earth and the moon.

The asteroid is known as 2005 YU55.

And according to ABC News, it’s the size of one of the Navy’s aircraft carriers – approximately 1,300 feet wide.

According to one expert, an asteroid that size would cause a powerful earthquake and a huge tsunami if it actually hit our planet.

But all the experts say that’s not going to happen.

“There is no chance of it hitting us in within the next 100 years,” said Bernie Reim, the co-director of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England, in a report for the Kennebec, Maine, Journal.

NASA scientist Don Yeomans told ABC that the asteroid would offer “clues as to what it was like when our solar system was forming.”

The reason?

2005 YU55 is a carbon-based asteroid.

And like our planet, it contains organic, carbon-based compounds, Yeomans says.

In fact some experts have suspected that a comet like 2005 YU55 might have actually made life on Earth possible.

How?

By depositing those organic compounds during some prehistoric collision with our planet.

“Without objects of this type, we probably wouldn’t be here,” Yeomans told ABC.

Again, no such cosmic collision is expected on Tuesday – or anytime in your lifetime, most likely.

“This is not a potentially hazardous asteroid,” said National Science Foundation astronomer Thomas Statler, in an interview with USA TODAY.  “(But) we want to study these asteroids so if one does look like it (might) hit us someday, we’ll know what to do about it.”

If you want to be able to see 2005 YU55 on Tuesday, you’ll need a telescope with an aperture of six inches or larger, according to ABC’s Edward Lovett.

(If you’re into astronomy, you presumably know what that means.)

The best time to see it will be Tuesday night, according to Reim.

Incidentally, it just so happens that Tuesday is the 355th anniversary of the birth of Edmond Halley – the man who gave his name to Halley’s Comet.

Maybe Mother Nature is just sending him a present.