If you have heard about the skull-shaped asteroid that’s heading our way just in time for Halloween, you may be tempted to worry, but don’t. The asteroid will come nowhere close to hitting our planet this year.
For those who haven’t heard, Asteroid 2015 TB145 zipped by Earth three years ago on Halloween. Its skull-like appearance made some believe the universe itself was preparing for the holiday. The asteroid missed Earth by just 300,000 miles in 2015, and such a close flyby allowed astronomy enthusiasts to watch it pass with a telescope and enjoy the view. This year, the skull-shaped asteroid poses even less of a threat than it did three years ago. Moreover, astronomers believe it doesn’t even resemble a skull any longer.
This year, the asteroid will fly past on a trajectory that brings its closest position 25 million miles away from Earth. In fact, the asteroid will be too far away for astronomers to determine what it looks like now.
“This time it’s not coming close enough (to Earth) to be any larger than a dot of light,” Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Center for Near Earth Object Studies, told CNN.
When it was initially discovered, the asteroid was measured at approximately 2,000 feet in diameter. However, the asteroid has probably been smashing into other celestial bodies over the last three years, which may have changed its shape.
Additionally, the skull-shaped asteroid will miss Halloween this year, as its closest position to Earth won’t be until Nov. 11. According to CNN, NASA said the asteroid is in fact a “dead” comet which long ago was spewing debris across the solar system. Dead comets no longer have debris to spread or create a tail.
Scientists discovered the asteroid on Oct. 10, 2015 using the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS-1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) telescope in Haleakala located on the island of Maui. At the time, scientists didn’t pay much attention to the skull-shaped asteroid because they were watching the asteroid known as 2009 FD, which passed about 4 million miles away from Earth on Oct. 29, 2015.