Huge asteroid to fly close to Earth

The asteroid has a diameter of 1,300 feet and will approach the planet at 0.85 lunar distances.

Last Updated: May 03, 2011, 16:05 PM IST

Washington: Mark your calendars for November 8, because that`s when a massive asteroid will sweep past the Earth.

The asteroid called 2005 YU55 has a diameter of 1,300 feet and will approach the planet at 0.85 lunar distances.

Due the object`s size and whisking by so close to Earth, an extensive campaign of radar, visual and infrared observations is being planned.

"The close Earth approach of 2005 YU55 on Nov. 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," Live Science quoted Don Yeomans, manager of NASA`s Near-Earth Object Program Office and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., as saying.

Because of its size and proximity to Earth, the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., has designated the space rock as a "potentially hazardous asteroid."

"This flyby will be the closest by any near-Earth asteroid with an absolute magnitude this bright since 1976 and until 2028," said Lance Benner, a research scientist at JPL and a specialist on radar imaging of near-Earth objects.

Initially, the object will be too close to the sun and too faint for optical observers.

But late in the day (Universal Time) on Nov. 8, the solar elongation will grow sufficiently to see it. Early on Nov. 9, the asteroid could reach about 11th magnitude for several hours before it fades as its distance rapidly increases, Benner added.

ANI