Sci-Tech

Watch a near-Earth asteroid get eclipsed by our planet

Asteroid 2016 VA took a jaunt up close to Earth and got caught in the planet's shadow along the way.

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Now you see it. Now you don't. Now you see it again.

G. Masi/The Virtual Telescope Project

NASA has identified thousands upon thousands of near-Earth objects. While big ones are easy to spot, sometimes small asteroids sneak up on us. Asteroid 2016 VA got up close and personal with our planet, buzzing us at a mere 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) away on Wednesday. The space rock got caught up in the Earth's shadow as it approached the planet on Tuesday.

The Virtual Telescope Project used this convenient encounter to capture rare footage of the asteroid during the Earth eclipse. "To our knowledge, this is the first video ever of a complete eclipse of an asteroid," says the Virtual Telescope Project, a volunteer-run site that hosts real-time feeds from several robotic telescopes.

A GIF of the action shows our planet's shadow cutting across the small white dot of the asteroid. It disappears and then reappears.

The asteroid is a tiny thing, estimated to measure somewhere between 30 and 66 feet (9 and 20 meters) in diameter. Despite its size, it will be remembered for its extremely close approach and its fascinating jaunt through the Earth's shadow.