Near-Earth asteroid 2020 RD4 extremely close encounter: a image – 14 Sept. 2020

A few hours ago, the near-Earth asteroid 2020 RD4 had a extremely close, but safe, approach with our planet, reaching a minimum distance from the Earth of about 110000 km, 0.28 times the average distance of the Moon. We imaged it around the fly-by.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 RD4. 14 Sept. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 RD4. 14 Sept. 2020.

The image above comes from a single, 120-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 RD4 was at about 110000 km from the Earth, basically at the fly-by distance. It was quickly moving South and it was already extremely low (17 deg.) on our Italian sky; clouds also made the observations quite difficult, but we succeeded. It was  discovered by the Panstarrs survey on 12 Sept. 2020.

This 2.9 – 6.5 meters large asteroid reached its minimum distance (about 110000 km) from us on 14 Sept. 2020, at 20:33 UTC (source: Nasa/JPL). Of course, there were no risks at all for our planet.

Below is the live feed we shared last night, showing this asteroid in real-time.

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