I thought I would let everyone reading this know that there will be an interesting astronomical event today. The asteroid YU55 is scheduled to pass close to the Earth today (actually 320,000km but to astronomers that is close) and could be visible in amateur telescopes. It should arrive around 3:28pm PST today.

This will be the first time such an event has happened since 1976 (or the first time in most of our lifetimes if you are of my generation or younger), and will allow the professional scientists to examine the asteroid without having to spend a lot of time and money on a space probe and rockets. As I wrote above, it won't be visible to the eye, but a good telescope or perhaps even powerful binoculars could give an interesting show. (Of course locally the weather is so horrid that I doubt anyone in town will have that opportunity, but there is a streaming video available from the Clay Center Observatory)

And for those who may be afraid of the consequences of this passerby from space, rest assured that there is no chance of collision. It has been passing by the Earth for many centuries apparently, and the people who track such things have determined that it is perfectly safe.

So if you have a chance, and if the weather permits, look up into the sky at 3:28pm and think about that little chunk of ice and rock that has been hurtling through space for great distances and ages, only to pass overhead at this moment.  Space is an awe-inspiring place!