A 200 foot wide asteroid will fly past the Earth this Halloween when a rare blue moon appears in the sky.
The space rock, designated 2020 UX3, is estimated to be between 88 and 196 feet in diameter, according to data from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Studies (CNEOS). It is predicted that the asteroid will be about 3.2 million miles from Earth at its closest approach. This is about 13 times the average distance between Earth and the Moon.
As it flies past, the space rock will move at a breathtaking speed of about 36,000 miles per hour relative to our planet, which is about seventeen times faster than a bullet.
Scientists know the orbit of this object very well, and there is no chance that it will hit the Earth. In 2020, UX3 is still considered a “near-Earth object” or NEO, of which we scientists currently know about 25,000.
NEOs are mainly asteroids and comets that, due to their orbit around the Sun, will come close to Earth and approach the orbit of our planet to about 30 million miles.
Some NEOs are classified as potentially dangerous, which means that they are in orbits that could cross the Earth’s orbit for many centuries or millennia, CNEOS Director Paul Chodas told Tekk.tv earlier.
A full moon will appear in the sky on October 31st – the first time since 2001 that such an astronomical event has occurred on Halloween. Halloween full moons usually appear every 18 to 19 years, with the next ones scheduled for 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.
This Halloween full moon is also special because it will be a “blue moon”. This term does not mean that the moon will actually have a blue color. It simply refers to every full moon that appears as the second one in a single calendar month.
The last full moon appeared on October 1st, so on Halloween the full moon will be a blue moon. The last blue moon appeared in March 2018 and there will be no more until August 23rd.
Full moons occur when our natural satellite is positioned directly opposite the sun with the earth in between. This happens at a specific time, which is 22:49 ET for October 31st.
The moon will appear to most people as a full moon on both sides of this time for about a day.