200-Foot-Wide Halloween Asteroid Will Fly Past Earth As Rare Blue Moon Lights Up Night Sky

A 200-foot-wide asteroid will fly past the Earth this Halloween as a rare Blue Moon appears in the sky.

The space rock, dubbed 2020 UX3, is estimated to measure between 88 and 196 feet in diameter, data from NASA's Center for Near Earth Studies (CNEOS) shows. The asteroid is predicted to come around 3.2 million miles of Earth at its closest approach. This is about 13 times the average distance between the Earth and the moon.

As it flies past, the space rock will be travelling at a staggering speed of around 36,000 miles per hour relative to our planet, which is about seventeen times as fast as a rifle bullet.

Scientists know the orbit of this object very well and there is no chance that it will strike the Earth. 2020 UX3 is still considered a "near-Earth object" or NEO, of which we scientists currently know of about 25,000.

NEOs are mainly asteroids and comets whose orbits around the sun mean they will enter Earth's neighborhood, coming within around 30 million miles of our planet's orbital path.

Some NEOs are categorized as Potentially Hazardous, meaning they are in orbits that over many centuries or millenia could cross with Earth's own, CNEOS director Paul Chodas previously told Newsweek.

On October 31, a full moon will appear in sky—the first time such an astronomical event has occurred on Halloween since 2001. Halloween full moons usually appear every 18 to 19 years, with the next ones scheduled for 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.

This Halloween full moon is also special because it will be a "blue moon." This term does not mean the moon will actually look blue in color. It simply refers to any full moon that is the second to appear in a single calendar month.

The last full moon appeared on October 1, so Halloween's full moon will be a blue moon. The last blue moon appeared in March, 2018. There will not be another until August 23.

Full moons occur when our natural satellite is positioned directly opposite the sun, with the Earth located in between. This happens at a specific moment, which for October 31 will be 10:49 p.m. ET.

The moon will appear full to most people for around a day either side of this time.

Stock image: Artist's illustration of an asteroid. The space rock 2020 UX3 will fly within around 3.2 million miles of Earth at the end of October. iStock