Scientists excited to study huge asteroid passing close to Earth

Tuesday evening, an asteroid is projected to come within a little more than 200,000 miles of Earth, and it's the closest an asteroid of its size has come to our planet since the 70s.

However, it is not expected to cause much more than excitement, here on our planet.

The asteroid is known by scientists as "2005 YU 55," and is about a quarter-mile across. The asteroid is not expected to impact the lives of anyone on planet Earth, but it definitely has some scientists excited!

Rich Talcott is the senior editor of Waukesha-based "Astronomy Magazine," and has been plotting the path of "2005 YU 55." He says scientists are excited about this asteroid, because they know, in advance, it's coming.

"(It has been) 35 years since the last one came by, and we didn't actually know that one was coming by at the time.

We found out after it had gone by, that it had been here," Talcott said.

Because they know it's coming, scientists will be able to study it, and Talcott says technology will let folks monitor the asteroid.

"It's faint enough that you can't go out and see it with your naked eye, even if the weather was nice, so it's not something where you'd go out and get a really big show. You'd have to look at it with a telescope," Talcott said.

Talcott says information gathered from studying this asteroid could save our civilization.

"Eventually, one of these objects is gonna run into Earth, probably thousands, or perhaps millions of years from now. They've obviously run into Earth in the past, because we have impact craters on our planet that have been caused by such objects, so it's something we need to know more about, so we can do something to protect Earth in the future," Talcott said.

NASA says "2005 YU 55" is just one of the more than 8,000 near-Earth asteroids the association has identified, and they say none are classified as threats.

Talcott estimates the next time an asteroid the size of "2005 YU 55" will pass Earth at a similar distance will be in about 15 years.