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Isles out of position to view near-earth asteroid

Hawaii observatories are not in a good position to track an asteroid that will pass relatively close to Earth on Tuesday.

The 1,200-foot-wide space boulder, named 2055 YU55, will make its approach during daylight hours here, according to NASA.

The best time to watch it is around 9 p.m. Greenwich time — 11 a.m. Hawaii time — and the best place is in the eastern Atlantic or western Africa, NASA says. At 1:28 p.m. Hawaii time it will come within 202,000 miles of Earth. That is less than the distance to the moon.

The asteroid poses no danger, but Earth has been hit by space rocks before and will again.

Locating and tracking near-Earth asteroids is the mission of Pan-STARRS, which has an observatory on Haleakala, Maui.

“Our job is to find these things before they are this close,” said Ken Chambers, a University of Hawaii astronomer and director of the Pan-STARRS Telescope 1. “We are currently finding one near-Earth object a day. This particular one was found in 2005, before we were up and running, but we found 30 last month.”

Pan-STARRS stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System.

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