Bloomberg News

Asteroid Bigger Than Empire State Building to Pass Near Earth

November 18, 2011

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- An asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building will pass by Earth today closer than the moon, the largest object in more than three decades to fly so near, NASA said.

The spherical rocky object, 1,300 feet (400 meters) in size, is the largest asteroid to come this close since 1976, when another body passed by undetected, according to a statement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

At 6:28 p.m. New York time, the asteroid, dubbed 2005 YU55, will be about 201,700 miles (324,600 kilometers) from Earth, or about 0.85 times the distance from the moon to the planet, NASA said. No discernible effect on the gravitational field will be felt, according to the agency.

The asteroid is one of more than 8,500 near-Earth objects to be cataloged, NASA said. At a quarter of a mile long, the asteroid is larger than the Empire State Building, which is 1,250 feet.

Today’s flyby is the closest this asteroid has come to Earth in the past 200 years. The next approach of an asteroid this large will be in 2028, the agency said.

--Editors: Chris Staiti, Bruce Rule

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Flinn in San Francisco at rflinn@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.


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