The asteroid 2005 YU55 is about half the size of the El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite. NASA
The asteroid that will whiz pass Earth on Tuesday afternoon will come within 197,000 miles of our planet, passing over a point above the Pacific Ocean 2,300 miles southwest of San Diego when it is on closest approach, says NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
“We’ve very accurately predicted the asteroid’s orbital path through 2075 and I can tell you there’s absolutely no chance that it will hit Earth,” said Jon Giorgini, a senior analyst at JPL, which tracks such objects.
The asteroid, known as 2005 YU 55, actually is the biggest object to brush past Earth since December 1976, when asteroid 2010 XC15 came within 190,000 miles.
“That asteroid had not even been discovered at the time,” Giorgini said. “We found it in the data later.”
Giorgini said that 2005 YU 55 won’t be visible to most average telescopes on closest approach, which will occur at 3:28 p.m. PT on Tuesday. But the asteroid, which is traveling more than 30,000 mph, might be visible to people using 6” or larger reflector telescopes after the sun sets in Southern California.
“It’ll be in much darker sky by then,” Giorgina said. “It will appear as a single dot. It doesn’t have a tail, like a comet. And the object is very dark. It reflects less light than charcoal.”
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