On 16 August, 2020 at just after midnight Eastern (US) time, a small asteroid buzzed our planet, passing just 2,950 kilometers above the Earth's surface!
Wow. That's close. That's only a quarter of Earth's diameter! The good news is it missed, and even had it hit it wouldn't have done more than put on an amazing light show, since it's only about 3–6 meters across (so, car to stretch-limo sized). In other words it would've burned up in the atmosphere.
But it did miss, and that makes this the closest near-miss by an asteroid ever seen.
The orbit of the asteroid 2020 QG can bring it extremely close to Earth; on 16 August 2020 it passed less than 3000 km above Earth’s surface (so close that Earth and the asteroid are on top of each other on this scale). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The asteroid is called 2020 QG, and was discovered only a few hours after it made its closest approach to Earth (over the Indian Ocean). That's pretty common for small rocks like this one. It was found in images taken by the Zwicky Transient Facility, a 1.3-meter telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California. This relatively modest telescope has ...