The word of the day must be “asteroid”. Today, NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex attempts its daring sample collection from asteroid Bennu as a bus-sized rock flies past Earth closer than the Moon.
While the rock poses no threat to us, its trajectory should be visible as it crosses the night sky. And you’re in luck: you can watch this close encounter without a telescope. The team behind the Virtual Telescope Project, whose instruments are located in central Italy, will stream their observations tonight at 6 pm EDT (10 pm UTC).
The asteroid is known as 2020 UA. At its minimum distance, it will be at 46,000 kilometers (29,000 miles) from Earth. That’s about one-eighth of the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. The celestial body was discovered on October 16 and will reach its closest approach on October 21, 2020, at 02:04 UTC.
2020 UA's size is between 5.9 and 13 meters (19.3 to 42.6 feet) across. The next time it will be close to Earth will be October 2024, at about 15 million kilometers (almost 10 million miles).
You can watch the live observations here: