Halloween DEATH COMET: Will skull asteroid to pass Earth tomorrow? | Science | News

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The bizarrely shaped , which was dubbed the Death Comet due to its shape, stunned astronomers when it was discovered three years ago.

Asteroid TB145 was tracked down by NASA on October 31, 2015, as it made a close flyby of Earth – passing approximately 310,000 miles (498,900 km) from the planet.

The asteroid’s skull-like appearance and coincidental discovery on Halloween earned it a number of creepy nicknames, with NASA opting for “The Great Pumpkin Comet’.

Astronomers are now preparing for the space rock to once again swing around the planet.

Will the Death Comet asteroid pass Earth on Halloween?

This time around, the comet will not pass by Earth on Halloween.

Asteroid TB45 will fly by shortly after Halloween and from a much farther distance.

The Death Comet will pass the Earth on the night of November 11 from about 25 million miles (40 million km).

When the comet zipped past the planet three years ago, it was nearly as close as the Moon.

At the time of its last passage, the asteroid appeared fairly faint in the night sky but was visible to small telescopes.

Unfortunately for astronomy enthusiasts, the space rock is too small and too far away next month for observation.

For the next opportunity to catch a glimpse of the creepy asteroid you will have to wait another 70 years.

Thomas Müller, a researcher at the Max-Planck Institute in Germany, said Asteroid TB145 will make a closer approach near Halloween in 2022.

The asteroid will be about 20 times as far away as the Moon during that flyby.

Dr Müller said: “The encounter on Halloween’s day 2015 was the closest approach of an object of that size since 2006, and the next known similar event is the passage of 137108 on August 7, 2027.

“Later, 99942 Apophis will follow on April 13, 2029, with an Earth passage at approximately 0.1 lunar distances.”

What is the Death Comet asteroid?

Astronomers caught their very first glance of the asteroid on October 10, 2015, at the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PANSTARRS-1) in Hawaii.

By the night of Halloween on October 31, radar images of the rock obtained by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico revealed its incredible features.

NASA’s scientists determined Asteroid TB145 is a so-called dead comet – a comet which has lost its outer layers of frozen water, carbon dioxide and other gases.

These frozen volatile elements create the characteristic glow and long trails comet leave behind when they orbit the Sun.

The Death Comet is, however, more reminiscent of asphalt here on Earth, reflecting about six percent of the sunlight that falls on it.

Astronomers estimate the Death Comet measures somewhere around 2,000 ft in diameter (610m).



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