Asteroid to pass closer to earth than the moon’s distance
A small asteroid discovered on September 18, 2020, from Mt. Lemmon Observatory in Arizona will pass a lot closer than the moon’s distance this week, passing even closer than geostationary satellites. This approach is so close that Earth’s gravity will bend the space rock’s trajectory, as shown in the illustration above.
Closest approach of this asteroid – labeled 2020 SW – should occur on September 24 at around 11:18 UTC (7:18 am ET; translate UTC to your time). At closest approach, asteroid 2020 SW should pass at an estimated distance of 17,556 miles (28,254 km) from Earth, which is just 7% of the moon’s distance. For comparison, television and meteorological satellites orbit at some 22,300 miles (35,888 km) from our planet’s surface.
Although there’s still some uncertainty in the space rock’s orbit, calculations indicate there is no risk of impact. As a result of the asteroid’s orbit’s uncertainty, closest approach might occur up to 24 minutes earlier or later than expected.
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