Near-Earth asteroid 2020 RF3 extremely close encounter: a image – 14 Sept. 2020

Earlier today, the near-Earth asteroid 2020 RF3 had a extremely close, but safe, approach with our planet, reaching a minimum distance from the Earth of about 92000 km, 0.24 times the average distance of the Moon. We managed to capture it a few hours before.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 RF3. 14 Sept. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 RF3. 14 Sept. 2020.

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The image above comes from a single, 240-seconds exposure, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the fast apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars show as long trails, while the asteroid looks like a bright and sharp dot of light in the center of the image, marked by an arrow.

At the imaging time, asteroid 2020 RF3 was at about 400000 km from the Earth, basically the lunar distance, and it was still safely approaching us. It was quickly moving South and it was already relatively low on our Italian sky. It was  discovered by the Panstarrs survey on 12 Sept. 2020.

This 5.3 – 12 meters large asteroid reached its minimum distance (about 92000 km) from us on 14 Sept. 2020, at 06:49 UTC (source: Nasa/JPL). Of course, there were no risks at all for our planet.

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