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article imageNear-Earth asteroid to adorn the night sky on Halloween

By Alessandra Miguel-Descalso     Oct 29, 2015 in Science
Amateur space explorers are yet to get the best surprise they could have this Halloween as one “spooky” asteroid is expected to dash across Northern American skies on the evening of October 31.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that they are now tracking asteroid 2015 TB145 — which they aptly call “The Halloween Flyby” or “The Great Pumpkin” — using various optical equipment in different observatories.
“The asteroid will fly past Earth at a safe distance slightly farther than the moon's orbit on Oct. 31 at 10:05 a.m. PDT (1:05 p.m. EDT). Scientists are treating the flyby of the estimated 1,300-foot-wide (400-meter) asteroid as a science target of opportunity, allowing instruments on ‘spacecraft Earth’ to scan it during the close pass,” NASA said in a statement.
Astronomers at NASA said that they have spotted the asteroid on October 10 using the Pan-STARRS 1 survey telescope at the Haleakala observation spot strategically located at an elevated spot in Maui, Hawaii. According to their calculations, the Halloween Flyby is a large near-Earth asteroid judging by its surface. According to IAU's Minor Planet Center, this will be the largest flyby since 2004. It also revealed that the next big flyby will happen in August 2027 through 1999 AN10
"The trajectory of 2015 TB145 is well understood," explained Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. He also emphasized that the point of closest approach would be roughly 300,000 miles (480,000 kilometers) or 1.3 lunar distances.
It will also do an unusual elliptical orbit. After passing by Earth, it will pass by a relatively close distance to the Sun. It would then return to the outer part of its orbit to spend most of its time from a distance that is approximately four times as far from the sun as Earth is.
By celestial standards, scientists at NASA added that the flyby will be relatively close, but they assured the public that even a small, regular telescope is capable of witnessing such a rare event.
The event is indeed special for the entire space exploration segment as it could be enjoyed both by the professional and amateur astronomers. Rare are the chances that space occurrences like this, apart from occasional eclipses and meteor showers, could be observed using basic Galilean telescopes typically owned by backyard space observers.
As everyone knows, there is a wall between amateur and professional explorers that some revered personalities want to remove as it only slows down the advancements in the space exploration segment. Among whom is Dr. Ruggero Maria Santilli, the man behind Thunder Energies Corporation, and whose eponymous telescope will not be exclusively distributed to scientists and astrophysicists. The Santilli telescope, which is the first and only antimatter-detecting telescope on the market, will be sold through distributors worldwide, even to amateur astronomers.
Dr. Santilli is one of the key figures in the science world who believes that the space exploration segment should not only be dominated and enjoyed by professional and licensed individuals, as everyone should be part of the world’s advancements and progress.
More about Space, Science & space, Asteroid, NASA
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