Though it’s as elusive as the never-seen Great Pumpkin of Peanuts fame, the Halloween flyby of Asteroid 2015 TB145 is causing as much of a stir in astronomical circles as the never-appearing ghost gourd did in Snoopy’s world.
The space rock, discovered on October 10 (though since determined to have whizzed by us in 1975 as well) will swoop 300,000 miles from us, just beyond the moon, at around 1 p.m. on Halloween. It is of no danger to this planet or our satellite, NASA and other experts assure us, although it has apparently been nicknamed “Spooky.”
The flyby can be viewed at the Slooh Space Telescope online and will be watched closely by astronomers, according to Space.com.
“The roughly 1,300-foot-wide (400 meters) asteroid 2015 TB145, which some astronomers have dubbed "Spooky," will cruise within 300,000 miles (480,000 kilometers) of Earth on Halloween (Oct. 31) — just 1.3 times the average distance between our planet and the moon,” says Space.com.
It will not be visible to the naked eye because it’s too dim, too fast, and for those of us on Turtle Island, is passing during our daylight hours, says Space.com. And in fact Friday night, Halloween Eve, is the best night to view it from our side of the world, Earthsky.org tells us.
“A newly found asteroid of notable size—known as asteroid 2015 TB145—will safely pass Earth on October 31, 2015, according to clocks in North America,” says Earthsky.org. “It should be visible moving in front of the stars, with the help of a telescope, tonight (October 30). It is the biggest known asteroid that will come this close Earth until 2027. The asteroid—found as recently as October 10—will fly past Earth at a safe distance, or about 1.3 times the moon’s distance. Closest approach to Earth will be October 31 at 1 p.m. EDT.”
It might yet turn out to be a trick: According to NASA, the asteroid might actually be a comet, reports Space.com. In the video below, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains the asteroid and what will be done to study it as it scoots by.