Giant Asteroid Set To Make Harmless Fly-By Earth

LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami) — NASA scientists are tracking an asteroid bigger than an aircraft carrier that will fly by between the Earth and moon Tuesday.

Scientists say it will be our closest encounter with such a huge rock in 35 years. Don’t worry though, scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, which tracks asteroids and comets, said it won’t hit Earth. They’re using the close encounter to learn more about the space rock known as 2005 YU55.

The closest approach will occur at 6:28 p.m. Eastern Time, when the asteroid passes within 202,000 miles of our planet. The moon will be just under 150,000 miles from the asteroid at the time of closest approach.

Amateur skygazers in South Florida who want a glimpse need two things: a good sky chart and a 6-inch telescope or larger since the asteroid is too faint to detect with the naked eye. Even with a telescope, sighting is not guaranteed. The glare from the moon may make the asteroid difficult to spot.

The last time a cosmic interloper this size came this close to Earth was in 1976 and it won’t happen again until 2028.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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