nasaasteroidillustration2

We don’t have a close look at 2020 SW, but this NASA illustration shows what an asteroid looks like in space.


NASA/JPL/Caltech

Asteroids swing by Earth all the time, but you don’t get a lot of opportunities to witness them live online as they fly by. 

Asteroid 2020 SW, which was just discovered on Friday, will stroll by Earth on Thursday, Sept. 24, but you can catch its approach to our planet through a live feed from the Virtual Telescope Project on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. PT.

Most importantly, the asteroid will zip safely by and go on its merry way. 

In a year full of exciting close asteroid approaches, 2020 SW will get plenty cozy. It’s expected to come within around 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers) from Earth. That’s closer than television satellites typically orbit. 

While close asteroid approaches can trigger alarmist headlines, there’s no need to worry about this latest encounter. For comparison, asteroid 2020 QG made one of the closest shaves on record earlier this year, getting within about 4,350 miles (7,000 kilometers) of our planet. 

Asteroid 2020 SW is a fairly dainty one, measuring in at somewhere between 14 feet (4.4 meters) and 32 feet (9.9 meters) in diameter. That we got a whole week’s notice of its arrival is a good sign our asteroid-spotting systems are working well. 

So tune in and say hello before 2020 SW says goodbye. 

The next fun asteroid moment to watch for will come right before the US elections, when tiny asteroid 2018 VP1 cuddles up to Earth. That one won’t signal doomsday, either. Even if it does enter our atmosphere, it will just disintegrate. 

source: cnet.com

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