Dubbed the Halloween asteroid, media touts 2015 TB145 as the “largest known asteroid to pass Earth until 2027”. At 1:05 pm ET on October 31, 2015 TB145 will pass Earth’s orbit at a distance of 498,896 Km. Estimated to have a diameter somewhere between 4 – 5 hundred meters, science isn’t sure if it’s an asteroid or comet. We know it kicks ass – traveling at 126,000 Km an hour. What we didn’t know before October 10 was that it even existed.
On October 10, 2015 Pan STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii identified 2015 TB 145. Practically overnight media gave birth to the “Halloween Asteroid”, I suppose no one could blame them, it possesses a certain degree of dramatic flair. Over the past few days “have you heard about the Halloween asteroid?” spewed from more lips than I could count, unaware their small talk just rang my space bell.
Unable to stop if I tried, ” it was only discovered 3 weeks ago by Pan STARRS and as of today is one of 1,633 PHAs, potentially hazardous asteroids over 100 meters within 100 lunar distance of Earth. A lunar distance is the distance from Earth to the Moon or 384,401 Km, and the Halloween asteroid will miss us by 1.3 lunar distance”. – befuddled small talkers manage – “oh my, you know a lot about this stuff”. “Yes, I suppose I do”.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing makes me happier than awareness of all things space. Every so often media latches onto space news deemed worthy of a headline or two. What’s sad is the lapse of wonder in between, a seemingly oblivious regard for the cosmos. TB 145 won’t squash Halloween festivities, but would it kill us to ponder our fragile existence?
Artist’s concept of a large asteroid passing Earth, via Shutterstock.