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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Giant Asteroid Passes Earth

An incoming asteroid will just miss Earth.

Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 at 3.6 lunar distances, or about 860,000 miles from Earth.  (AP)
Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 at 3.6 lunar distances, or about 860,000 miles from Earth. (AP)
An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier is set to make a close to earth, but scientists at NASA are certain the asteroid will not be a threat. Scientists are using the close encounter to learn more about the space rock.

A public broadcast of the asteroid's movements can be seen on The broadcast includes interviews with astronomers, and the discoverer of the asteroid.

Unless Southern Californians have a background in astronomy or a strong telescope, they probably won't be able to see the asteroid with the naked eye, according to Dr. E.C. Krupp, an astronomer and the Director of the Griffith Observatory.

The asteroid, known as YU55, was discovered by University of Arizona astronomers in 2005. Its surface is coal black, and it spins slowly through space. The International Astronomical Union considered YU55 as a potential hazard to earth six years ago.  

YU55 will come within 80 percent of the lunar distance, which is the distance between the moon and Earth. The last time an asteroid this size came this close to Earth was in 1976, and it will not happen again until 2028.

Scientists at NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, which tracks asteroids and comets, ruled out any chance of impact. People should have nothing to fear.

"There will not be any gravitational interaction that will affect anything on the Earth's surface. It's just a too small object going by too quickly," said Lindley Johnson, the executive of the Near Earth Object Obervation Program.

The closest pass will happen at a distance of 202,000 miles at 3:28 p.m. PST. People will not see the asteroid with the naked eye. Amateur observers trying to locate the asteroid need a good sky chart and a 6-inch telescope or larger.

Sighting is not guaranteed because the glare from the moon may make the asteroid difficult to spot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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