Newly discovered sneaky little asteroid flew by Earth Wednesday

The asteroid came closer than the moon, but still zipped safely by our planet.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Asteroid 2020 GH2 appears as a bright dot in the center of this image from the Virtual Telescope Project.

Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project

NASA is tracking around 20,000 near-Earth asteroids, and that number grows all the time thanks to space rocks like 2020 GH2, a newly discovered asteroid that cruised by our planet early in the morning Pacific time on Wednesday. 

The International Astronomical Union issued a Minor Planet Electronic Circular on Saturday confirming the asteroid's discovery.

The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy pulled off the impressive feat of snapping an image of 2020 GH2 on April 12. The asteroid appeared as a bright dot among streaks of stars. "This is an incredible capture, as the hardware tracked this moving target to perfection for a long time," wrote the project's founder Gianluca Masi in a release on Tuesday.

The asteroid measures in at an estimated 40 to 100 feet (13 to 30 meters) in diameter. It came within roughly 220,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) of Earth, which placed it closer than the moon. That's almost a space snuggle, but it was still a plenty safe distance.

GH2 illustrates how previously unknown near-Earth objects appear on our horizon with surprising regularity. This asteroid's closeness set it apart from some of the other rocks we've found on short notice. There's nothing to worry about here, though. This asteroid minded its own business and is now on the way out of our space neighborhood.

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