A naked-eye comet isn’t the only surprising celestial arrival in 2020. As NEOWISE gradually fades, an asteroid the size of an SUV passed extremely close to Earth earlier today—and nobody saw it coming until it was almost upon us.
Spotted only on Sunday, July 26, 2020 by the Mt. Lemmon Survey, the asteroid—called 2020 OY4—got closest to Earth at 05:32 UTC this morning, July 28, 2020.
How big is 2020 OY4?
How close did 2020 OY4 get to Earth?
It passed about 26,000 miles/42,000 kilometers from Earth, which is pretty close; only 11% of the average Earth-Moon distance, according to EarthSky. Compare that to Comet NEOWISE, which on July 22, 2020 reached its closest to Earth at a whopping 64 million miles.
Is 2020 OY4 dangerous?
No—there is no risk to Earth. Nor was there ever since near-Earth asteroid 2020 OY4 is relatively small.
What is the Mt. Lemmon Survey?
The Mt. Lemmon Survey (MLS) is a prolific finder of near-Earth objects (NEOs) like 2020 OY4. Part of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), it’s situated in the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson, Arizona, USA, and uses a 60-inch telescope to scan the night sky.
Where is asteroid 2020 OY4?
Although it’s way too small to see with the naked-eye, know that 2020 OY4 is currently in the constellation of Capricornus. That’s close to Saturn and Jupiter, both currently in the next door constellation of Sagittarius. You can see both constellations in the eastern sky right after dark.
And, of course, get yourself a final view of Comet NEOWISE before it goes.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.