An asteroid the size of an RV (15 to 32 ft long) named 2020 SW passed closer to Earth than the moon on Thursday.
The asteroid 2020 SW appeared brighter as it came nearer to the Earth. However, without a telescope, it wasn’t visible to the naked eye. The Virtual Telescope Project provided a clear view and a live feed of the event on its website at 6 p.m. EDT (22:00 UTC) on Wednesday night.
The Near-Earth Object Observation Program and telescopes all over the world tracked Asteroid 2020SW, as it was passing within 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) of Earth. This asteroid wasn’t socially distancing.
For perspective, the moon is on average 238,900 miles (384,000 km) away from us. This equals the distance of 30 Earths. The asteroid passed within about two Earths. This means asteroid 2020 SW was closer than our television and weather satellites, which are in low-earth orbit.
It was close, but a safe encounter. The asteroid was traveling at a speed of about 17,200 mph (27,720 km) the Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported. And we shouldn’t see 2020 SW again until it passes by on June 3, 2029.
Near-Earth Object Observation Program
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program is set up at the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) in Pasadena, California on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory facility.