Close Shave: Big Asteroid to Pass Earth Tuesday

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An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier will pass within 201,000 miles of Earth next Tuesday, Nov. 8, just inside the orbit of the moon.

It will be the biggest asteroid to fly by Earth since 1976. The space rock is estimated to be about 1,300 feet wide, or the length of four football fields.

NASA said the rock poses no danger and there is no chance it will hit the Earth.

Scientists are preparing to study the nearly round, slowly spinning chunk of space debris, known as Asteroid 2005 YU55, as it flies by.

"This flyby is an opportunity to learn more about C-type -- that is carbon-based -- asteroids in case one is threatening to hit us," Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told ABC News.

It will also offer "clues as to what it was like when our solar system was forming," Yeomans said.

NASA has predicted the next large asteroid will pass by the Earth in 2028. The space agency said their $5 million-per-year asteroid-tracking program has detected more than 90 percent of "planet killer" asteroids -- those that are bigger than one kilometer in diameter.

Amateur astronomers can watch the asteroid as it passes by our planet if they have a reflecting telescope with a light-gathering mirror six inches or more in diameter.

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