The Two-Way
11:29 am
Tue November 8, 2011

As Asteroid Approaches, Here's How To Watch It

As we reported at the end of October, 2005 YU55, an asteroid bigger than an aircraft carrier, is set to have a very close rendezvous with planet Earth. It'll be closer than the moon and today at 6:28 p.m. ET, it will make its closest approach.

Don't worry. NASA is confident it will miss us. Here's a video NASA put together that explains the trajectory and shows an animation:

Of course, the big question, here, is how can one see the asteroid. If you don't have a telescope, you're out of luck.

Wired reports while the asteroid is of moderate size, it will still be 201,700 miles away, so you need at least a six-inch telescope.

If you have a telescope, Sky and Telescope reports the track is favorable for viewing here in the United States. It will be moving very fast, says Sky and Telescope, you have to know exactly where to look. They explain:

The object will traverse the 70° of sky eastward from Aquila to central Pegasus in just 10 hours, clipping along at 7 arcseconds per second. Use the chart here to get a sense of what part of the sky it's in, then download our detailed finder chart for use between 9 and 10 p.m. November 8th Eastern Standard Time (2:00 and 3:00 November 9th Universal Time).

If you don't have a suitable scope, or if it's cloudy tonight, check out the live webcast of the asteroid's flyby from Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy.

Also, for a little more context, Space.com put together this amazing info-graphic:

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.