Halloween asteroid flyby 2015: “Great Pumpkin” TB145 will come spookily close to the Earth on Saturday

 
Sarah Spickernell
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If you look closely with a telescope, you might be able to spot it
If you look closely with a telescope, you might be able to spot it (Source: Getty)

An unexpected asteroid is going to fly scarily close to the Earth on Saturday, just in time for Halloween.

Asteroid 2015 TB145, also known as “the Great Pumpkin”, will miss our planet by around 300,000 miles when it comes hurtling past at around 5pm UK time – an incredibly close call in celestial terms.

With a width of around 400 metres, it is also much larger than most asteroids that come close to the Earth. In fact, the next time an asteroid of this size is expected to come within such close proximity of the Earth is 2027.


The asteroid's trajectory relative to the Earth and the moon (Source: Nasa)

According to Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it's travelling at speeds of over 126,000 km/h – so if it actually made contact with our planet, the results could be devastating.

What's so strange about this asteroid is that until 10 October, when astronomers in Hawaii spotted a mysterious object hurtling towards us, no one had any idea of its existence.

Read more: A crowdfunding campaign is trying to save us from life-threatening asteroids

But thankfully, unlike the ghosts, ghouls and witches that supposedly emerge on Halloween, it doesn't pose any danger to us here on Earth.

Paul Chodas, manager of the Near Earth Object Studies at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said:

At the point of closest approach, it will be no closer than about 300,000 miles. Even though that is relatively close by celestial standards, it is expected to be fairly faint, so night-sky Earth observers would need at least a small telescope to view it.

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