Skywatchers the world over, my father-in-law included, are eagerly anticipating the flyby of asteroid 2005 YU55 next week. On November 8th the 400 meter (although I’ve been seeing the size may be more than double that) in diameter space rock will brush past Earth at a distance just a little less than the moon. I first learned of this asteroids monumental passing when my wife and I went outside looking for the thing last night. Turns out we had some wrong info, and if you want a good look at 2005 YU55 you’ll want a telescope with an aperture of 6.
There won’t be another asteroid coming this close to Earth until 2028, which has scientists prepping for some kickass radar observations. The event will kick off on November 4th, when radio antennas at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex will focus on the asteroid to prepare for upgrades to the facility. They hope that by the time the asteroid flies by on November 8th they’ll be able to formulate a detailed animation of the rock. By the 8th the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will join in on the radar analysis of 2005 YU55.
It takes the asteroid about 15 months to orbit our sun, and will not hit the Earth. While it will come close, the chance is zero that YU55 will impact the planet in any way. No gravitational effects, including changing tides, will take place. But the close proximity will give great advantage to astronomers looking to further study the floating debris in our solar system that may someday be landed on. You never know what kind of goodies might be discovered on an asteroid.