Happy Halloween from 2015 TB145!

Us Whovians were enjoying an exciting tale of Zygon invasion tonight, but at the same time, astronomers have been very busy tracking and studying asteroid 2015 TB145, which made a close approach to the Earth tonight.  The object is newly discovered and poorly known, and might be a comet as it has a very elliptical orbit — a comet, or a Damoclid, a mysterious group of asteroids with comet-like orbits that are consequently very difficult to spot and track, and which may themselves be extinct comets.  If an extinct comet, then it would also put it in the same category as the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, source of the Geminids and the first known extinct comet.  But if all that wasn’t spooky enough, just check out this view of it from the Arecibo Observatory, which “painted” it with radar, and seen in this way, it looks like a skull:

asteroid-2015-TB145skull-e1446281665726

It isn’t really skull-shaped, of course; radar images are a bit like ultrasound and shadows can appear that are very misleading.  But it’s definitely suitable for the season, wouldn’t you say?  😉

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