Asteroid 2005 YU55 passing near earth will be no Fifth Element thriller

nasa radar image and trajectory of 2005 yu55 asteroid

This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was obtained on Nov. 7, 2011, at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 p.m. EST/1945 UTC), when the space rock was at 3.6 lunar distances, which is about 860,000 miles, or 1.38 million kilometers, from Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Tonight at 6:28 ET, the recently discovered asteroid 2005 YU55 will make a close pass by earth, briefly passing inside the moon’s orbit.  Sounds dangerous doesn’t it?  All we need is for it to be bigger, flaming, sponsored by evil, and headed straight for earth and now you’ve got a real thriller- fodder for a sci-fi movie featuring tough-guy Bruce Willis, and supermodel Milla Jovovich and oh wait… that’s already been done.

The difference between today’s asteroid encounter and the flaming ball in The Fifth Element is, well, it’s not flaming, it’s not going to smash into earth, and possibly the biggest disappointment (besides the lack of flying cars) is that it won’t even really be a big enough cosmic event to be viewed by the naked eye…   sigh.  Kinda makes one yearn for the good old days when the comet Hale Bopp  (which has a much sexier name than 2005 yu55) hung around for months offering tantalizing views of her long tail to anyone who cared to gaze skyward.

On the other hand, for those of us geeky enough to want to see and know more about 2005 yu55, here are a few links of interest:

Nasa’s Asteroid and Comet Watch site features updates, charts, and cool radio-telescope images of 2005 yu55

Cal-tech’s Jet Propulsion Lab Asteroid Watch website


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