Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW exceptionally close encounter: a image – 23 Sept. 2020

In a few hours, the near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW will have and exceptionally close, but safe, approach with our planet, reaching a minimum distance from the Earth of about 27000 km, 7% the average distance of the Moon. We imaged it a bit earlier, among the clouds.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW. 23 Sept. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW. 23 Sept. 2020.

The image above comes from a single, 60-seconds exposure, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars show as 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 SW was at about 245000 km from the Earth (63% of the average lunar distance) and safely approaching. The sky was very cloudy and we could only capture this image before closing the observatory. This asteroid was discovered by the Mt Lemmon survey on 18 Sept. 2020.

This 4.4 – 9.7 meters large asteroid will reach its minimum distance (about 27000 km, closer than geostationary satellites, orbiting at 36000 km from us) on 24 Sept. 2020, at 11:13 UTC (source: Nasa/JPL). Of course, there are no risks at all for our planet.

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