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Newly discovered asteroid sneaked past Earth without smacking any satellites

Hello and goodbye, asteroid 2020 OY4.

- 01:19

The arrow in the center marks the spot for asteroid 2020 OY4 in this image from the Virtual Telescope Project.

Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project

Space surprises include sneaky little asteroids that come close to Earth. Asteroid 2020 OY4 was spotted on Sunday, July 26 and made a close approach to Earth late on Monday or early on Tuesday, depending on your location. 

Space rocks zip past our planet all the time. What makes 2020 OY4 interesting is its extremely recent discovery and that it passed us within the orbit of geostationary satellites. 

The asteroid went safely by without bothering our planet or any satellites.

The European Space Agency estimated that 2020 OY4 measures roughly 10 feet (3 meters) across and came within about 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) of Earth. 

The Virtual Telescope Project managed to capture an image of the tiny asteroid. "The telescope tracked the fast apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars show as long trails, while the asteroid looks like a bright and sharp dot of light in the center of the image, marked by an arrow," wrote Gianluca Masi, head of the Virtual Telescope Project, in a statement.

Though OY4 came pretty close to us, it still wasn't as close as the stealthy asteroid 2020 JJ that squeaked by in May, giving us one of the closest known approaches on record.

The discovery and tracking of dainty OY4 is a testament to our space agencies' asteroid-hunting technologies and techniques. It's a good illustration of why it's so important to keep our eyes peeled around our space neighborhood.