PAGASA: Giant asteroid may be visible on Nov. 9 – The Philippine Star » News » Headlines

November 03, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (3)

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga , Philippines – An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier will fly between the earth and the moon and may be visible over the Philippines on Nov. 9.

The asteroid, called YU55, is one of the biggest known, according to Renato de Leon of the Astronomy Department of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geological and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

“It’s one of those near-earth objects (NEO) that’s not so unusual and pose no danger of hitting the earth,” De Leon told The STAR.

He said the last time an asteroid of such size came close to earth was in 1976. The next passage of an asteroid of similar size is not expected until 2028, he added.

He stressed YU55 will only be visible in clear skies. Unlike a comet, YU55 does not have a tail and will appear only like a slow moving star.

He said that while there is no danger of YU55 hitting the earth, an asteroid of that size smashing into earth could trigger a magnitude 7.7 earthquake and – if it lands in the ocean – could whip up a 70-foot high tsunami.

Asteroid YU55 was first detected in 2005 by Spacewatch, a program created to track large asteroids crossing the earth’s orbit. YU55 was found to be more than half a mile in diameter or about the size of a large aircraft carrier.

De Leon cited a report from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) indicating that YU55 will come within 201,000 miles of earth at its closest.

Earlier this year, NASA’s NEO program revealed that more than 90 percent of near-earth objects are more than six-tenths of a mile in diameter.

De Leon said that even if the asteroid heads toward the earth, it is likely to disintegrate before reaching ground.

He said geologic evidence such as craters created by the impact of asteroids the size of YU55 hitting the earth exist, like those in Wetumka in Alabama and in Rock Elm in Wisconsin in the US. The most recent are the six-mile-wide Bosumtwi crater in Ghana, which is about a million years old, and the nine-mile-diameter Zhamanshin crater in Kazakhstan, which is about 900,000 years old.

via PAGASA: Giant asteroid may be visible on Nov. 9 – The Philippine Star » News » Headlines.


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