Will An Asteroid Hit Earth On Halloween? Let's Try To Avoid An 'Armageddon' Situation
An asteroid has completely sneaked up on us and is set to zoom by on the night of Halloween. Formally known as 2015 TB415, the 1,300-foot asteroid has been causing quite the ruckus since being discovered just three weeks ago. People have been calling it the "Halloween Asteroid" and assume that its presence on such a spooky holiday certainly means it will be colliding with the planet. But will an asteroid hit earth on Halloween?
2015 TB415 will come impressively close but never quite hit us. Due to its oval orbit and the positioning of the earth, the asteroid will get within 300,000 miles of us, so 1.3 times the distance of the moon. Rarely do orbiting asteroids come so close. The last one to make such an explicit appearance was seen in 1975. The next similar incident won't occur until 2027.
If you're interested in catching a glimpse of the Halloween asteroid before heading out to celebrate the holiday, your best bet is to grab a telescope and look up at the sky at around 1:18 p.m. ET. Don't have a telescope? You can always view the asteroid's passing online via a live webcast from Slooh starting at 1 p.m. An additional webcast will be available the night before starting at 8 p.m. over at the Virtual Telescope Project.
The only mystery that still needs solving when it comes to the 2015 TB415 is what exactly the asteroid is. NASA's Lance Benner, who heads up the asteroid radar research program at JPL in California, tells Space.com that the unique orbit is what's called the Halloween asteroid's status into question. Benner said:
Such a unique orbit, along with its high encounter velocity — about 35 kilometers or 22 miles per second — raises the question of whether it may be some type of comet. If so, then this would be the first time that the Goldstone radar has imaged a comet from such a close distance.
Having an object such as the Halloween asteroid hurtling so close to the earth without presenting a danger actually presents an opportunity for scientists to further advance the study of asteroid and comet research. Plus, the asteroid may inspire a potential horror film with its distant trick-or-treating efforts, appearing near Earth with little warning and coming closer than any asteroid has in decades. There's nothing to be afraid of with the Halloween asteroid except for maybe missing out on seeing it fly through the sky.