Watch live as an asteroid the size of a school bus flies close to Earth


We don’t have a close look at 2020 SW, but this NASA illustration shows what an asteroid looks like in space.


Asteroids swing by Earth all the time, but you don’t get a lot of chances to witness them live online as they fly by. 

School bus-size asteroid 2020 SW, which was just discovered on Friday, will stroll past Earth on Thursday, Sept. 24, but you can catch its approach to our planet through a live feed from the Virtual Telescope Project on Wednesday, Sept. 23 kicks off at 3 p.m. PT.

Most importantly, the asteroid will zip safely by and go on its merry way. 

In a year full of exciting close asteroid approaches, 2020 SW will get plenty cozy. According to NASA, it’s expected to come within around 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) of Earth’s surface. That’s closer than television satellites typically orbit. 

While close asteroid approaches can trigger alarmist headlines, there’s no need to worry about this latest encounter. For comparison, asteroid 2020 QG made one of the closest shaves on record earlier this year, getting within about 4,350 miles (7,000 kilometers) of our planet. 

“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year,” Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Asteroid 2020 SW is a fairly dainty one, measuring in at somewhere between 15 to 30 feet (5 to 10 meters) wide. That we got a whole week’s notice of its arrival is a good sign our asteroid-spotting systems are working well. 

So tune in and say hello before 2020 SW says goodbye. The asteroid won’t be back in our neighborhood until 2041.

The next fun asteroid moment to watch for will come right before the US elections, when tiny asteroid 2018 VP1 cuddles up to Earth. That one won’t signal doomsday, either. Even if it does enter our atmosphere, it will just disintegrate. 

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