What a show of fireworks this would be!

Asteroid 2015 TB145 will pass by Planet Earth – just!

Back in my old country, Halloween is not celebrated in the same style that it is here in America. The Brits tend to favour the evening of November 5th and Guy Fawkes Night. That evening, Bonfire Night, sees fireworks parties in many places.

nov5th

However, if one starts to think of the dimensions and distances of outer space then our planet is just being spared the firework show to beat all other shows.

I’m referring to Asteroid TB145, a huge asteroid, that will pass Earth at 310,000 miles (498,896 km) or 1.3 times the Earth-moon distance.

asteroid20151021

UPDATE OCTOBER 30, 2015. A newly found asteroid of notable size – known as asteroid 2015 TB145 – will safely pass Earth on October 31, 2015, according to clocks in North America. It should be visible moving in front of the stars, with the help of a telescope, tonight (October 30). It is the biggest known asteroid that will come this close to Earth until 2027. The asteroid – found as recently as October 10 – will fly past Earth at a safe distance, or about 1.3 times the moon’s distance. Closest approach to Earth will be October 31 at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 UTC). Translate to your time zone here.

Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, said:

The trajectory of 2015 TB145 is well understood. At the point of closest approach, it will be no closer than about 300,000 miles – 480,000 kilometers or 1.3 lunar distances. 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.

So how big is this asteroid?

Scientists are continuing to estimate the size at 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide.

If the size is correct, the new found asteroid is 28 times bigger in diameter than the Chelyabinsk meteor that penetrated the atmosphere over Russia in February, 2013. An incoming asteroid’s potential to do damage on Earth depends on various factors, including its size, its angle of entry, and the point on Earth over which it enters the atmosphere. The shock wave from the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor broke windows and did other damage to some 7,200 buildings in six Russian cities. Some 1,500 people were injured seriously enough to seek medical treatment, mainly from broken glass from windows.

For those of you that want to catch a glimpse of TB145, then:

TB145at350amET0750UT10312015-e1446201004409

Asteroid position at 3:50 a.m. ET (0750 UTC) Point a Go To computerized telescope to HIP 24197 or SAO 94377) a naked-eye star with a magnitude of 5 in Orion. At 3:50 a.m. ET on October 31 (Saturday morning), the space rock passes close to this star. The asteroid will appear as a slowly moving ‘star’ passing very close to this star. By this time the asteroid should appear to move faster because it will be closer to Earth than earlier on the night of October 30. This illustration shows a half degree field of view (about the size of a full moon). A pair of double stars visible in this area should confirm you are pointing at the correct direction. Alternatively, you can point your telescope to these coordinates: RA 05h 11m 41.6s / DEC +16º 02′ 44.5″. Illustration by Eddie Irizarry using Stellarium.

Full details and answers to most of your questions may be found here.

All I can say is I hope the number crunchers have got their sums right!

If not, then it’s goodnight from her and goodnight from me.

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It was nice knowing you all!

P.S. If you think this is all a bit far-fetched, then this video sent to me by Dan Gomez will bring you down to earth.

12 thoughts on “What a show of fireworks this would be!

  1. The drawing above is misleading: the asteroid passed much closer.
    So here we have an asteroid undetected until October 10. This puts a lie to the statistics on detection proclaimed in recent years.
    How big is it? Apparently 600 meters across.

    By comparison the Chelyabinsk meteor was twenty meters across, with a mass of 13,000 tons.
    This means the mass of Halloween asteroid was (13,000) x (30^3) = (13,000) x (27,000) ~ 300 x 10^6 tons, that is one third of a BILLION tons.
    Moreover, it goes particularly fast.

    Thus it contains at least 1,000 times the explosive power of the Tungunska Event.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event
    How much is that? At least 1,000 times… 15 megatons. At least a million times Hiroshima.
    I don’t believe an asteroid 10 kilometers across extinguished the dinosaurs (the Dekkan Traps did it). However, it certainly did not help them.

    The statistics brandished about the probability of impact are fantasist: clearly most asteroids or comets will explode before reaching the ground (only iron meteorites have a high probability to do that). As happened at Tunguska. So one cannot infer from impact craters, the probability of bolides.
    Tungunska was not small the forest destruction made a butterfly, 70 kilometers across, 55 kilometers long. For the Halloween asteroid, had it impacted Earth, the destruction would have roughly the same shape, but with ten times the dimensions.

    Had the Halloween asteroid been aimed at Earth, could we have done a thing? Yes, an Ariane V rocket could have been packed with a few 250 kilotons warheads (standard in USA and France) and a supplementary thick casing of Uranium 238 (to boost the explosive power). The whole hellish device to be detonated by a quintupled proximity system, within meters of the asteroid’s surface.

    A good asteroid and comet detection system would cost the price of a big Hollywood budget movies.

    Ah, why Ariane V? Because there are always some of these highly dependable rockets ready for launch and it has plenty of spare impulse capability (second best would be the much lighter Soyuz, also always available)

      1. Yes, indeed, I must admit. I am going to use a reinforced version for today’s essay. And I thank you for nudging me this way. Yesterday’s essay of mine was hard, even venomous (in more ways than one). I notice that, even on your own site, your readers are more ready to express their love for dog pictures parades rather than your own most thoughtful essays. This is, by itself, is a matter for thought. With the rise of virtual reality, and video games, we see an increasing rise of the mood that reality is something not worth bothering with…

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