Halloween asteroid a near miss

Jacklyn York

Homecoming will fall on Halloween this year. What else is happening?

  • Before the floats and costumes, an asteroid, 2015 TB 145, will have passed by Earth.
  • The Empire State Building sized asteroid will zoom by at 78,000 mph and within a distance of 300,000 miles an hour. This is still a safe distance at about the distance it would take to travel around the Earth ten times. This asteroid will be the biggest to date until the next expected asteroid, 1999 AN10, in 2027 at about 62,000 miles closer. The best chance of visibility will be between 10:05 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. in the Northern Hemisphere. NASA said it would be hard to locate with the naked eye but to look towards the constellation Taurus.
  • Experts from Slooh Observatory will broadcast a live stream on Oct. 31 of the flyby. 2015 TB145 is 32 times the size of the meteor that hit Russia this year. In the event that it was to impact earth, it would be a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima. NASA said they’re confident in the trajectory and “well understood.”

So a huge rock is traveling by Earth. Who found it and who monitors it?

  • The University of Hawaii Pan-STARRS-1 first discovered it on Oct. 10. Jacqueline Dunn, professor of astronomy, said, “It’s a typical response time. There is still a lot we don’t know about space.” Dunn said this asteroid is no cause or concern, but will be a great opportunity for learning about near Earth asteroids once it passes. The size and distance make the asteroid ideal for radar imaging.
  • Goldstone will monitor 2015 TB145 by sending out radio waves using a 110-foot antenna. Observatories in Puerto Rico and West Virginia will collect information from the bounced radar echoes and expect images as fine as seven foot per pixel. Dunn said, “ They’ll get some good observations from it traveling so close. They’re going to get composition stuff. Anytime we can try to figure out densities, that helps us figure out what were dealing with for future ones that could be coming closer.”

Now that everyone can expect it, will anyone be watching for it?

  • Paxton Wade, nursing sophomore said, “ I don’t go out of my way when something like this happens, but yeah, if it interests me and I’m available, I’ll look for it.”
  • The typical response by students is between work and school; they do not plan to be the observers on the ground.
  • “I mean as long as there is no need for alarm, then it is interesting,” said Jeromy Stacey, business sophomore. Stacey said he was fascinated with the astronomical event and after confirming there was no risk, planned to try to catch it but was discouraged by the daylight disadvantage.
  • Thomas Vactory, sociology junior said, “It is kind of cool,” he said with an unamused expression, “but it happens all the time. It just happened a couple years ago but I will be at work so I won’t be able to catch it.”
  • Michael Sellars, mechanical engineering sophomore said, “I have class,” Sellars stopped working at his computer in McCoy but showed no sign of interest in the upcoming Halloween asteroid.

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