/Adorable asteroid 2020 CW makes one of the closest passes by Earth ever seen – CNET

Adorable asteroid 2020 CW makes one of the closest passes by Earth ever seen – CNET

Asteroid approaching Earth, artwork

Asteroid 2020 CW is small but speedy.


NASA

A speeding space rock made a daring flight above our heads when the adorably appliance-size asteroid 2020 CW whipped by the planet Saturday.

At only about 3.3 feet (a meter) in diameter, the asteroid is roughly the size of an oven, washer or other household appliance. Had it hit Earth, it would most likely have burned up in our atmosphere, but instead it flew by at a blazing 47,647 mph (76,680 km/h) and a distance of 10,225 miles (16,455 kilometers). 

That might sound like quite a wide berth, but it’s well within the orbit of many of our communications satellites circling the planet at around 22,300 miles (35,888 kilometers) above us. 

This puts 2020 CW at No. 8 on the list of closest asteroid passes in NASA’s database of Near Earth Object close approaches. An even closer flyby, currently at No. 2 in the database, was recorded on Halloween of last year. 

2020 CW was first spotted by the Mount Lemmon Survey in Arizona the same day it made its close pass and shortly thereafter by the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in New Mexico. 


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Of course, there are asteroids that actually impact our atmosphere. Astronomers spotted asteroid 2018 LA before it crashed into us. By the time it made it through the atmosphere, it’s thought that just a few little bits made it to the ground in Africa. The most notable impact of the century so far is the Chelyabinsk bolide that exploded in the atmosphere over Russia in 2013, blowing out windows on the ground. 

That asteroid wasn’t spotted until it was a fireball in the sky, a reminder to always keep an eye up, preferably via an advanced asteroid-finding telescope.