Earlier this month, NASA identified an asteroid—2015 TB145—that will pass by Earth on Oct. 31, at the relatively close distance of 310,000 miles.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes that the flyby, "presents a truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object," adding, "this is the closest approach by a known object this large until 1999 AN10 approaches within 1 lunar distance in August 2027. The last approach closer than this by an object with H < 20 was by 2004 XP14 in July 2006 at 1.1 lunar distances."
According to NASA, the asteroid's orbit is "extremely eccentric" and highly inclined (or tilted). And NASA's Pan-STARRS project didn't discover the object until Oct. 10, so if it were actually on an Earth-hitting path, it would have been bad news for us. NASA, for what it's worth, says it would be alarmed over an asteroid set to pass Earth by a margin of 20,000 miles or closer. But 310,000 miles? Fine.
But! This asteroid is not heading our way, so don't even worry about it. Just hang out with some telescopes around 11 a.m. EST on Halloween to kick off your spooky day, and be grateful that our little planet gets to continue hurtling through space a little longer.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.