Near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA extremely close encounter: a memorable event- 20/21 Oct. 2020

Earlier today, the near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA had a extremely close, but safe, close encounter with our planet, reaching a minimum distance from the Earth of about 46000 km, 12% the average distance of the Moon. We shared it live with our public and captured some amazing images and movies at the fly-by time.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA at its closest to Earth. 21 Oct. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA at its closest to Earth. 21 Oct. 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. At the time of the image above, 2020 UA was at its minimum distance from us (46000 km) and the telescope tracked its extremely fast (2300″/minute) apparent motion, this is why stars show as very long trails, while the asteroid looks like a bright and sharp dot of light in the center of the image, marked by an arrow. This image is a superb demonstration of the performances of our robotic system.

The Earth-2020 UA distance, in scale with the Earth-Moon one.

The Earth-2020 UA distance, in scale with the Earth-Moon one.

We shared live views of this asteroid live with the international audience, capturing some unique imagery. The animation below puts together 78 frames taken back to back, with the telescope still tracking 2020 UA: it shows the asteroid moving 79X faster than in reality. Looking at the time-lapse, it is evident how the object quickly varies in brightness, as it is spinning fast and it has a irregular shape.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA: a time lapse. 20 Oct. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA: a time lapse. 20 Oct. 2020.

We also changed our point of view, asking the telescope to simply track the stars (that is, compensating for the ordinary, rotational motion of the Earth), leaving the asteroid free to travel. We captured six images, with 20 seconds of exposure each: as you see, the resulting trails have a varying brightness, again because the asteroid is quickly rotating.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA: another time lapse. 20 Oct. 2020.

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 UA: another time lapse. 20 Oct. 2020.

Here you can find the podcast from our live feed

This 5.9 – 13 meters large asteroid was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon survey on 16 Oct. 2020 and reached its minimum distance (about 46000 km) from us on 21 Oct. 2020, at 02:04 UTC (source: Nasa/JPL). Of course, there were no risks at all for our planet.

Back to “Solar System” page

Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive unique, LIMITED EDITION set of images of stunning Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 1998 OR2, images of the International Space Station above Rome and more, specifically made for supporters like you!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.