The Celtic festival Halloween is celebrated on the night of 31st October and 1st November every year and is associated with the Celtic feast of Kala-Goañv (Breton), Calan Gwaf (Cornish), Samhain (Irish), Sauin (Manx Gaelic), Samhuinn (Scottish Gaelic) and Calan Gaeaf (Welsh). In the Isle of Man it is the date of the celebration known as Hop tu Naa. Traditionally it is a time of year when the worlds of the living and the dead were seen to be at their closest. When the creatures of the 'Otherworld', often associated with the pre-Christian Gaelic pantheon of the Tuatha Dé Danann, make their presence known to the people of 'this world'.
This year at Halloween and Hop tu Naa another visitor not of this world is making its presence felt. A massive Halloween asteroid is due to fly past Earth today. Nicknamed the “Great Pumpkin” by astronomers, it is expected to miss the planet by just 300,122 miles (483,000km). The 400 metre-wide asteroid, officially known as TB145, was spotted by astronomers in Hawaii on October 10th. Dr Detlef Koschny, of the European Space Agency (ESA), said: “The fact that such a large near-Earth object capable of doing significant damage if it were to strike our planet was discovered only 21 days before closest approach demonstrates the necessity for keeping daily watch of the night sky.”
However, for this Halloween at least scientists have said there is no need to be scared, because the asteroid will miss Earth by a good margin. But keep your eyes towards the heavens! Because you may well see a flying black clad figure on a broom stick silhouetted against the moon.