Large 'Spooky' Comet Narrowly Misses Earth on Halloween
By By Brian Lada, Meteorologist
May 26, 2016, 5:45:35 AM EDT
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A newly discovered asteroid larger than a skyscraper whizzed past the Earth on Halloween, making a dangerously close approach to the planet.
The asteroid, officially named 2015 TB145, was just discovered on Oct. 10, 2015, and made its closest approach to the Earth on Friday night.
Since its discovery, NASA has determined that the large space rock is likely a dead comet rather than an asteroid. The difference between a comet and an asteroid is what type of material they are made of.
Being a dead comet means that it does not have a tail as most comets do.
Fortunately, the comet will miss the Earth, but it still made an uncomfortably close approach of 302,885 miles. To put this in perspective, the average distance from the Earth to the moon is 238,900 miles.
NASA estimates that the size of 2015 TB145 is about 2,000 feet in diameter, making it taller than the Empire State Building.
This is much smaller than the asteroid that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct, but if it collided with the Earth, it would still produce a significant amount of destruction around the area where it made impact.
Its close approach to Earth also allowed NASA to get a glimpse of the dead comet. Eerily enough, the halloween comet is shaped like a skull.
— NASA (@NASA) October 31, 2015
"It’s frightening to think an asteroid this size, approaching so close to Earth, was discovered only 21 days before its closest approach, which just happens to be on Halloween,” Paul Cox, the host of Slooh, said.
Slooh is a community observatory that has connected telescopes to the Internet for public use, and has partnerships with organizations such as NASA.
“If that doesn’t give you the chills, nothing will,” he added.
Slooh broadcasted the close approach of the dead comet early on Saturday afternoon. The broadcast can be viewed in its entirety below.
While some people may think that the comet's approach of 302,885 miles is far away, it is a much closer approach to the Earth than a majority of asteroids that fly through our solar system.
According to NASA, this will be the biggest known asteroid to near Earth until 2027. The last time an asteroid this large passed by the Earth was in July 2006.
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