On November 8, 2011 in the late afternoon (CST), a rather large space rock will fly within about 200,000 miles of our home. There is no chance that it will impact this time around, and has very minimal chances for the next several hundred years.
View the interactive orbit diagram for 2005 YU55 from NASA’s JPL.
This certainly isn’t the first time large asteroids have whizzed by Planet Earth, but what is exciting is that astronomers for the first time have had a reasonable head’s up to look for such a large object so close before the flyby. This might be a little disturbing, of course, as this “first” does represent a significant weakness in our past successes of identifying potentially dangerous near-Earth objects. And, Dynamic Patterns Research has written about this important issue earlier this year, with a focus on how amateur researchers can play an important role in early detection.
The path of the asteroid will take about 11 hours to pass through Earth’s field-of-view, and amateur astronomers in North America should be able to glimpse 2005 YU55 with nice backyard telescopes. A detailed path was generated courtesy of Sky and Telescope (VIEW MAP) and you may read more about the flyby along with additional observational tips:
“Mini-Asteroid Makes a House Call”, HOMEPAGE OBSERVING by Kelly Beatty
Sky and Telescope November 1, 2011. [ READ ]
Watch how NASA is planning track the close approach of 2005 YU55: