An asteroid called 2020 SW rotated from Earth in the early hours of September 24, and some astronomers were lucky enough to photograph the passing space rock. The asteroid was only seven percent of the distance between the Earth and the Moon, or approximately 27,000 kilometers.
At this distance, it is closer to our planet than some satellites are to the Earth’s surface.
While the asteroid, less than 10 meters long, was photographed by, astronomers from the virtual telescope project clicked a picture of the 2020 SW.
The virtual telescope project says: “The image comes from a single 180-second exposure taken remotely with the Elena robotic unit (PlaneWave 17 + Paramount ME + SBIG STL-6303E) available in the Virtual Telescope.
“The telescope tracked the visible motion of the asteroid, so the stars appear as paths, while the asteroid appears as a bright and sharp point of light in the center of the image, marked with an arrow.
“At the time of imaging, the asteroid 2020 SW was about 227,000 km from Earth (59 percent of the mean lunar distance) and was approaching safely.
“This asteroid was discovered by the Mt Lemmon study on September 1
“We also took 130 shots, back to back, and later made the interval where the asteroid surfed in the sky against the stars.”
Another astronomer, Marian Urbanick of Australia, also managed to photograph a nearby Earth object (NEO).
READ MORE: Asteroid Tracker: Earth’s Gravity to Impact the 33-Foot Space Rock Path
The meteor blast, which exploded when it hit the Earth’s atmosphere, smashed thousands of windows across the city and injured nearly 1,000 people.
However, the damage from a hypothetical blow from 2020 SW will be much smaller.
Astronomical site Space Weather said: “The hypothetical strike by 2020 SW would break fewer windows and no craters at all.
“During the flight, the gravity of our planet will bend the orbit of the asteroid and throw it harmlessly back into space. Au revoir, 2020 SW.”