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Science and Innovations

'Spooky' Asteroid on Course for Halloween Flyby

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NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Earthlings will get a visitor from outer space this Halloween as an asteroid makes a close approach.

The space rock was discovered earlier this month by astronomers in Hawaii. It will fly past Earth tomorrow at a distance just beyond the orbit of the Moon.

NASA says there’s no threat of an impact. The asteroid, nicknamed “Spooky,” is moving fast – zipping along at almost 80,000 miles per hour. It’s also got an unusual orbit, which may be how it escaped detection until now. It’s too faint to see without a telescope, but stargazers can look for it moving through the constellation Orion tonight.

And get ready with the costume award – NASA scientists speculate “Spooky” might actually be a comet in disguise. They’ll bounce radio signals off the object as it passes to learn more about it. 

Astronomers say there might be millions of near-Earth objects, but only 13,271 have been found so far. NASA-funded survey programs track asteroids that might one day present a hazard to Earth, including the Catalina Sky Survey and Spacewatch in Tucson and the Spitzer Near-Earth Asteroid Team in Flagstaff.

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Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech
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The trajectory of the Halloween asteroid.

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