Huge asteroid will pass Earth within the Moon’s orbit on November 8

Mike Wehner, Tecca

2011 has been an eventful year for space junkies. We've already seen the final flights of the Space Shuttle program, the revelation that water may still exist on Mars, and even a close call with a sneaky asteroid that just barely grazed by our planet. On November 8 we'll add another exciting event to that list as the massive ball of rock and chemicals named 2005 YU55 (seen above in a NASA radar image) will pass within 202,000 miles of Earth.

As its name suggests, 2005 YU55 was first discovered in 2005. The rock was spotted by Robert McMillan of the Steward Observatory in Tuscon Arizona, and in 2010 its predicted trajectory was studied to ensure no risk of an Earth impact. Unlike the 2011 MD asteroid (that made its flyby in June of this year) which was roughly the size of a school bus, 2005 YU55 is much larger. Estimates put it at roughly the size of a naval aircraft carrier. On November 8, the massive rock will squeeze by within approximately .85 lunar orbits of our planet, making it the closest near miss by an asteroid of its size since 1976.

Scientists are certain that YU55 does not pose any risk to Earth for at least the next 100 years, and the next time a large asteroid will pass by the planet will be in 2028. However, space rocks have a tendency to sneak up on us — as was the case with 2011 MD, which scientists spotted just a week before its arrival. So don't be shocked if you hear about a few more orbital visitors before our 2028 visit.


This article originally appeared on Tecca

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