[Update 10/29 12:47 PM]
Slooh has been putting asteroids like “Spooky” in national and international headlines since we were one of only a handful of organizations to track 2008 TC3 before it hit the skies above Sudan. We’re doing it again with this weekend’s show, and it’s already paying off. Slooh’s “Spooky” coverage was recently discussed in the Washington Post, CBS News, and National Geographic.
[Update 10/28 8:13 PM]
In the nearly 3 weeks since Spooky’s discovery, astronomers have been compiling images of the asteroid, in an attempt to learn more about this strange rock and to pinpoint its orbit, speed, and size. Slooh members have been an integral part of this operation, submitting dozens of their own images taken using Slooh’s global observatories to the Minor Planet Center.
Get a first look at Spooky streaking through the stars below:
[Update 10/28 10:25 AM]
‘Spooky’ is a unique asteroid in a number of ways. One of them is its highly inclined orbit, which is causing a number of issues for astronomers attempting to track it. This inclined orbit is part of the reason the asteroid was discovered so late, since it placed it outside the usual observation area for Near Earth Asteroids.
The precise timing of Spooky’s close approach has also been surprisingly difficult to pin down. Its odd orbit, rapid speed and the fact it was discovered just a few weeks ago has kept astronomers racing to measure when the closest approach will actually happen. Initially, that time was described as roughly 1:18 PM ET on Halloween. In just days, and after much observation including by Slooh Astronomers, that time has been pulled back to about 1 PM ET. Because of this change in time, Slooh has decided to adjust the start time of our Halloween broadcast, pulling it back from 1 PM to 12:30 PM ET.
[Update 10/27 4:30 PM]
NASA has been tracking asteroids and other Near Earth Objects since the late 90s, with the goal to track all objects larger than 140m by 2020. But not everyone believes NASA has all the tools they need to track all those objects. Dr. Ed Lu, the co-founder and CEO of the B612 Foundation, spoke to Slooh about this very thing back in 2013.
[Update 10/27 9:00 AM]
Thanks to the Halloween timing of 2015 TB145’s close approach, and the bone chilling nature of the threat it poses to our planet, Slooh named the asteroid ‘Spooky’, a moniker that has caught on with many in the press. But ‘Spooky’ isn’t the whole story.
Spooky is just asteroid PHA 2015_TB145's first name. Can you guess its full name? To be revealed Saturday at 12:30pm https://t.co/dYVLYyDSb7
— SLOOH (@Slooh) October 27, 2015
[Update 10/26 7:02 PM]
Slooh is no stranger to tracking asteroids, having done so live in several previous broadcasts, but Spooky, with its large size, high speed, late discovery, and eccentric orbit, presents a unique conversation. At nearly 500 meters wide, Spooky does not fall into the category of “large” asteroids the government has asked NASA to prioritize finding, but it still represents a size large enough to do heavy damage if it were to strike the planet. In an interview with Slooh in 2014, NASA Senior Scientist, David Morrison, spoke about how even with asteroid tracking at the level it is, we do not currently have the ability to deflect larger rocks.
[Original Post Below]
A massive, potentially hazardous asteroid, 2015 TB145, nicknamed “Spooky”, is zooming ever closer to the Earth, ready to make its close approach on Halloween. This asteroid is not only massive, with a diameter nearly twice that of Trump World Tower in New York, but extremely fast, zooming through space at 78,000 MPH — 29 times faster than a high velocity rifle bullet.
Despite its size, speed, and the fact that it will fly past the Earth at nearly the same distance as the Moon, “Spooky” was only discovered on October 10th, a mere 3 weeks before its closest approach.
Slooh will be there on Halloween, at the moment of closest approach, tracking the asteroid as it comes so close to cataclysm. Utilizing our robotic telescopes in the Canary Islands, and our global network of observatory partners, we’ll watch as this worrisome rock swings by us in a near miss. While we watch, Slooh host, Paul Cox, along with Slooh astronomer, Bob Berman, and some special guests, will discuss the dangers of Near Earth Asteroids, the potential fallout of an asteroid this size impacting the Earth or Moon, and will try to understand why it took so long to discover.
2015 TB145 is possibly 32 times the size of the asteroid that injured a thousand people in Chelyabinsk, Siberia in 2013. If it were impact us, the energy released would be measured not in kilotons like the atomic bombs that ended World War Two, but in H-Bomb type megatons. It will be interesting indeed to watch Slooh track and image this substantial intruder as it passes just 300,000 miles from us.