Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Flyby: Asteroid 2005 YU55

This chronicle will be considered as one of the many significant highlights of Year 2011.

Asteriod - an artist impression of a
Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) 
Asteroid 2005 YU55 is set to pass between the Earth and Moon on November 8 and 9, 2011 at a distance of 325,000 kilometers or more than 200,000 miles. It was discovered on December 28, 2005 by Robert S. McMillan of the Spacewatch Program in Tucson Arizona. The event will be the closest approach to date by an object which is over 400 meters or greater than 1200 feet in length, about the length of an aircraft carrier. This episode that we came to know in advance and in such nature will not happen again until June 26, 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances.

Asteroid 2005 YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision. Classified as a C-type or Carbon-type spectra and composition asteroid, 2005 YU55′s “flyby” at 0.85 lunar distances is close enough to offer astronomers a rare chance to observe a large asteroid in action from the ground.

Arecibo Radio Telescope Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
The asteroid will be tracked for an estimated 8 hours by optical, near infrared and radar instruments, including high-resolution imaging from the Arecibo Observatory’s radio telescope installation in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Previous observations of the asteroid have shown it to be a fairly dark, mostly spherical object with a rotational period of about 20 hours. Despite its relative dimness because it is mostly composed of carbon, the asteroid will have a visual brightness of 11th magnitude and should be easily visible to observers in the northern and southern hemispheres.

 Radar Image of Asteroid 2005 YU55

This animations shows the Earth-Moon flyby geometry of 2005 YU55 on November 8 and 9.

 Click on the image to view trajectory of asteroid 2005 YU55 compared
to the orbits of the Earth and the Moon on 8–9 November 2011

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

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