Astronomer snapped ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid headed for Earth in incredible PHOTO

20 Jan, 2020 18:50 / Updated 2 years ago
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Astrophysicist and astronomer Dr Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy was gazing at the stars on January 17 when he managed to capture an incredible image – an inbound asteroid.

As Masi was surveying the sky in the early morning hours of Friday, asteroid 2020 AN3 came into view. The scientist managed to capture this incredible photo of the asteroid – just one of thousands of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) that could one day strike Earth – as it was approximately 1.9 million miles (3.1 million km) from our planet.

While appearing as a mere dot in the image, the asteroid is actually estimated to measure between 754.6ft and 1,673ft in diameter. The single, 180-second exposure captures the space rock as it moves toward Earth, with the length of the exposure causing all the stars in the background to appear as streaks across the sky. 

“The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid,” Masi said of his incredible image.

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The space rock was tracked by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) and features on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Risk List, but was only discovered a few days before its close Earth approach by the Catalina Sky Survey.

It’s one of a whopping 88 new NEOs which have been spotted so far this year.

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