Asteroid Buzzes Earth on Tuesday!

Posted on November 06, 2011

On November 8, 2011, an asteroid named 2005 YU55 (hereinafter referred to as “Yolanda”) will pass .85 lunar distances from the Earth — closer than the moon!  It has a 400 meter diameter, the size of an aircraft carrier, and is dark and nearly spherical.  [Click the image above for an animated view of the asteroid’s path].

At its closest, Yolanda will be visible from the Earth’s southern hemisphere.  Officials are employing one of the coolest-looking telescopes — Arecibo, star of “Goldeneye” and “Contact” — to create an extraordinarily detailed image and 3D model of the asteroid as it zips by.

Yolanda is classified as a “potentially hazardous object,” but it will not hit the Earth or moon.  The only defensive action being taken on Tuesday is the introduction of Tobii Technology’s new eye-controlled version of Asteroids at Dave and Buster’s in Times Square.  Read that story here.

The next time an object will pass this close to Earth (that we know about) is 2028, when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances.  In the mean time, we recommend that you find your nearest Atari Asteroids arcade machine and do your part.

NASA Near Earth Object Program page on Yolanda: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news171.html