Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW exceptionally close encounter: image, movie and podcast – 24 Sept. 2020

In about three hours, the near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW will safely come as close as 27000 km, 7% the average distance of the Moon and closer than Geostationary satellites. Last night, we imaged it and showed it live to the world.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW. 24 Sept. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW. 24 Sept. 2020.

The image above comes from a single, 180-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.

Not only we imaged it, but we shared 2020 SW with our community in real-time: thousands of viewers from all over the planet joined our live feed. The sky was cloudy at the scheduled time, but after 90 minutes, we were lucky and we could show it under excellent sky conditions.

At the imaging time, asteroid 2020 SW was at about 227000 km from the Earth (59% of the average lunar distance) and safely approaching. This asteroid was discovered by the Mt Lemmon survey on 18 Sept. 2020.

In addition, we took 130 frames, back to back, later making the time-lapse below, where the asteroid is surfing the sky against the stars.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW was quickly approaching us. 24 Sept. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW was quickly approaching us. 24 Sept. 2020.

As we said, we showed 2020 SW live to our public, please find below the podcast:

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.

The distance of 2020 SW from Earth at the fly-by time.

The distance of 2020 SW from Earth at the fly-by time.

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