Asteroid 2011: How To See '2005 YU55' From Earth (LIVE UPDATES, PHOTOS)

11/08/2011 11:36 am ET | Updated Jan 08, 2012

2005 YU55, an asteroid larger than an aircraft carrier, will whiz past Earth on Tuesday, coming so close to the home planet that it will actually travel inside the moon's orbit.

Astronomically speaking, the asteroid will narrowly miss Earth, but NASA tells HuffPost we have nothing to worry about. Rather, it is an opportunity for astronomers to do research into the asteroid's composition.

UPDATE 11/8 7pm: According to the Associated Press, the asteroid has "zipped by Earth."

"There is no chance that this object will collide with the Earth or moon," Don Yeomans, the manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program office, told Reuters last week.

According to NASA, the space rock is about 1,300 feet across and takes about 18 hours to make a full rotation. At its closest point to Earth, which will occur at 6:28 p.m. EST, the asteroid will be 202,000 miles away, or roughly .85 the distance of the moon to Earth.

Even though it's relatively close, Asteroid 2005 YU55 can't be seen with the naked eye. But if the stars align (yes, we had to go there), some amateur astronomers with the right equipment might be able to catch a glimpse of the asteroid as it hurtles by at a reported 30,000 miles per hour.

"The best time to observe it would be in the early evening on November 8th from the east coast of the US," Scott Fisher, program director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences told Space.com. "However! It is going to be VERY faint, even at its closest approach. You will need a decent sized telescope to be able to actually see the object as it flies by."

According to Kelly Beatty at Sky & Telescope, you'll need a telescope with at least a 6-inch aperture to see the asteroid. It's a nearly full moon tonight, so just like some of the meteor showers earlier this year that have been washed out, the visibility of the asteroid could also be affected by the moon's glare.

Sky & Telescope, which has a great map of the asteroid's path, reports that the space rock will take ten hours to move east across the sky, from Aquila to Pegasus.

Don't fear if you lack the equipment or know-how to track the space rock. For a roughly $12 donation, you can catch a live webcast of the event from Italy's Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory.

Countdown to asteroid passing closest to Earth:

Animation of asteroid's path as it passes by Earth:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

11/08/2011 7:22 PM EST

Asteroid Zips By Earth

The Associated Press writes:

An asteroid as big as an aircraft carrier zipped by Earth on Tuesday in the closest encounter by such a massive space rock in more than three decades. Scientists ruled out any chance of a collision but turned their telescopes skyward to learn more about the object known as 2005 YU55.

Read more here.

11/08/2011 6:40 PM EST

Yes, The Asteroid Missed Us

@ AsteroidWatch :

@tdcmba Yes, of course it missed. There was no threat of it hitting but it was close enough to allow us to do great science.

11/08/2011 6:29 PM EST

*Crickets*

*Crickets*?

11/08/2011 6:18 PM EST

Live Feed Available From Massachusetts Observatory

@ AsteroidWatch :

Another live feed of asteroid #YU55 from the Clay Center Observatory's 25-inch telescope: http://t.co/I3fWvPbP

11/08/2011 6:18 PM EST

Live Feed Available From Massachusetts Observatory

@ slow_ro :

RT @AsteroidWatch Another live feed of asteroid #YU55 from the Clay Center Observatory's 25-inch telescope: http://t.co/2WeeOQko

11/08/2011 6:15 PM EST

Asteroid's Gravitational Influence Will Have No Detectable Effect

Have no fear - NASA writes that while the asteroid's encounter with Earth is the closest it has come in the last 200 years, "The gravitational influence of the asteroid will have no detectable effect on Earth, including tides and tectonic plates."

Read more here.

11/08/2011 6:05 PM EST

The Smallest Object That Could Cause Significant Ground Damage

Scientific American discusses asteroids, writing, "On average, a 30 meter sized object, the smallest that could cause significant ground damage, would be expected to hit every few hundred years, and a larger object of a kilometer in diameter would not be expected to hit but every few hundred thousand years."

11/08/2011 5:57 PM EST

Asteroid Simulator Shows Impact Predictions

Ever wonder what a large asteroid impact would do? Check out this simulator from Purdue University.

11/08/2011 5:41 PM EST

WATCH: First NASA Video Of Asteroid

Watch the first video of the asteroid from NASA below, and learn more here:

11/08/2011 5:16 PM EST

How To Avoid A 'Death By Asteroid'

@ PopMech :

Death by #asteroid, and how to avoid it http://t.co/EW0cRueb

Check out some asteroid photos in the slideshow below:

Images Of Asteroids