'Great Pumpkin' dead comet hurtles safely past Earth on Halloween
Comet bears remarkable resemblance to a massive human skull
As Halloween trick-or-treating preparations were underway Saturday afternoon, a dead comet bearing remarkable resemblance to a massive human skull hurtled safely past Earth.
The comet was originally thought to be a giant asteroid, but NASA scientists observing it have determined it is more than likely a dead comet that shed its volatiles after numerous passes around the sun.
Dubbed "the Great Pumpkin" by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the space object, designated 2015 TB145, has a diameter of 400 metres, twice the size of the Rogers Centre in Toronto, and is travelling through space at the dizzying speed of 35 kilometres per second.
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"It appears to have donned a skull costume for its Halloween flyby," NASA said on its website.
A frightening aspect of the space rock, which has also been nicknamed "Spooky," is that astronomers didn't even know it existed until Oct. 10 — not nearly enough time to stop it if it posed a threat — and almost didn't spot it at all.
The Great Pumpkin passed within 490,000 kilometres of the Earth on Saturday at about 1 p.m. ET — 1.3 times as far away as the moon.