Huge asteroid to pass near Earth in November

April 8, 2011 | Source:

Near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55 about 1.5 million miles from the Earth on April 19, 2010 (credit: Arecibo Observatory/Michael Nolan)

The Asteroid 2005 YU55, about 1,300 feet in diameter, will approach Earth within 0.85 lunar distances in early November 2011.

Discovered on December 28, 2005, “the close Earth approach of 2005 YU55 on November 8 is unusual since it is close and big. On average, one wouldn’t expect an object this big to pass this close but every 30 years,” says Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

“This flyby will be the closest by any near-Earth asteroid with an absolute magnitude this bright since 1976 and until 2028,” says Lance Benner, a research scientist at JPL.

Initially the asteroid will be too faint for telescopes. But late in the day (UTC) on November 8, the solar elongation will grow sufficiently to see it.