Asteroid 2020 SW will barrel past Earth at a distance closer than some satellites, astronomers have announced. Although the asteroid will not impact the planet, its trajectory will actually be tweaked by its encounter with Earth’s gravity.

Asteroid trackers at US space agency NASA have revealed how a tiny asteroid will make an extraordinarily close encounter with our world.

At 0.00019 Astronomical Units (AU), the equivalent to 17,556 miles, the asteroid will be far closer than the average distance to the Moon.

Some may think this is actually a vast distance.

But to put this into context, the majority of satellites orbit the planet at only 22,300 miles (35,888km).

This asteroid’s approach is actually so close the gravitational pull of our planet will affect the space rock’s path.

NASA’s NEO Earth Close Approach site added some other surprising statistics about the asteroid.

The cosmic debris is estimated to be up to 33ft (10m) in diameter.

And the asteroid is also estimate to be hurtling through space at 5.62km/s (12,571mph).

As a result, even if this asteroid were on a collision course with Earth – which is categorically is not – it would certainly incinerate in our atmosphere.

Anyone armed with a powerful-enough telescope should note 2020 SW’s closet approach will take place at approximately 12.18pm BST (7.18am ET).

However, a consequence of the asteroid’s uncertain orbit means its closest approach might actually take place 24 minutes earlier or later than expected.

The asteroid will almost certainly brighten as it draws close to the Earth.

But unfortunately, even the most eagle-eyed amateur astronomers will not be able to see it unaided.

NASA now knows the asteroid circles the Sun approximately every 372 days.

This means 2020 SW’s orbit is only a week longer than our planet’s.

Asteroid 2020 SW will attain a visual magnitude of 13.0 to 13.5, meaning the space rock is far too faint to be visible without some serious tech.

But this is potentially within reach of astronomers using a 6 or 8-inch diameter telescopes.

The space rock will gradually increase its brightness as it approaches the planet.

Asteroid 2020 SW will eventually reach a magnitude of approximately 13 to 13.5 during the early hours of Thursday, with its brightest shortly before dawn.

Currently residing in the Pegasus constellation, the asteroid will soon enter Pisces.

Anyone awake at this time may possibly see a slowly-moving star-like object in the sky.

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