All eyes are on huge asteroid buzzing Earth on Nov. 8
By LEONARD DAVID - MSNBC.COM
Added: Mon, 07 Nov 2011 11:02:39 UTC
Mark Nov. 8 on your calendar. A huge asteroid that could potentially threaten Earth in the far future will pass close by as astronomers around the world watch and measure.
This space rock is asteroid 2005 YU55, a veritable mini-world roughly 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide — nearly four football fields across — that will zoom by Earth inside the orbit of the moon.
In April 2010, this radar image of the near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55 was taken by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. On Nov. 8, this large space rock zips by Earth again and will be surveyed by radar, visual and infrared equipment.
At its closest approach, the asteroid will pass within 201,700 miles (325,000 kilometers) of Earth at 6:28 p.m. EDT on Nov. 8. The average distance between Earth and the moon is 240,000 miles (386,242 km).
Asteroid 2005 YU55 is set to become the object du jour for ground observers. An extensive campaign of radar, visual and infrared observations is being staged to survey this cosmic interloper.
Due to its size and proximity, YU55 was classified as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid" several years ago. Its upcoming flyby is another wake-up call — an express mail reminder that humanity resides on a sitting duck of a planet.
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