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article imageAsteroid making close call to Earth

By Steffan Ileman     Nov 5, 2011 in Science
An asteroid will pass by the Earth on Tuesday at a distance closer than the Moon. It’s not expected to pose any hazard. It will be visible Tuesday night.
An asteroid the size of four city blocks is expected to pass by the Earth on November 8 at a distance of about 200,000 miles in its orbit around the Sun. The space object has been tracked by astronomers for the past six years. It’s a chunk of black rock about a quarter mile in diameter and presently invisible since it’s coming from the direction of the Sun. You should be able to pick it with a telescope Tuesday night.
The asteroid was named 2005 YU55 when discovered in 2005 by Robert McMillan, director of the University of Arizona’s Spacewatch Project. It disappeared soon after discovery but was spotted again last year and tracked since. It’s considered a potentially hazardous object since its trajectory intersects with the Earth’s orbit.
Earth’s gravitational pull will slightly alter the asteroid’s orbit, which will make another pass by the Earth in 2029. Chemically, the space object is very much like a giant meteor, loaded with carbon and water-containing minerals.
NASA will observe and study the space object during this close encounter, but the agency says it doesn't pose any threat to Earth.
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