Eddie Irizarry
Orbits of planets in the inner solar system.

Heads up! Small asteroid to pass very close on April 12

Small asteroid 2021 GW4 will pass extremely close to Earth on Monday, April 12, 2021. It’ll pass just 12,313 miles (19,816 km) from Earth’s surface, or about 5% the Earth-moon distance.

Animation of the orbits of Earth and Apophis showing how often they cross each other.

Earth is safe from asteroid Apophis for the next 100 years

Apophis’ flyby in early March 2021 enabled astronomers to conclude there’s no chance this asteroid will strike Earth anytime soon. “A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility anymore,” one scientist said, “and our calculations don’t show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years.”

Simulated solar system orbits, showing the location of the Earth and the asteroid on January 6, 2021.

2001 FO32: Big asteroid sweeps closest this weekend

When the asteroid labeled 2001 FO32 sweeps closest to Earth on March 21, 2021, it’ll be moving at such a fast pace that observers using telescopes might be able to detect its motion – its drift in front of the stars – in real time. Charts and info here.

A black background showing the Earth-moon system, with 2020 SO looping around it twice.

Say goodbye to Earth’s mini-moon on February 1 and 2

In November, a new mini-moon began orbiting Earth. NASA later confirmed it’s a lost-and-found 60s-era rocket from the Surveyor 2 moon mission, launched more than 50 years ago. Now the object – SO 2020 – is coming close again for one last time. Here’s how to see it!

A very faint star field, with the comet, a tiny dot, within tick marks.

Newly found Comet Leonard might become 2021’s brightest

The first comet to be found in 2021 – labeled C/2021 A1 (Leonard) – might become the brightest comet of this year! Charts and more info here.

Is that a UFO?! There’s probably an explanation

Most Unidentified Flying Objects aren’t actually unidentified. Here’s a list of phenomena, either natural or human-made, that people often mistake for UFOs.

Black-and-white radar image of 2 asteroids stuck together.

Astronomers reveal asteroid 2000 WO107 as a contact binary

Asteroid 2000 WO107 passed Earth safely on November 29, at 11 times the moon’s distance. Astronomers at Goldstone bounced radar signals from its surface and discovered it’s 2 asteroids that touched, and stuck.

Computer-generated asteroid orbit, in relationship to Earth.

This asteroid just skimmed Earth’s atmosphere

The asteroid – 2020 VT4 – is estimated to be between 16 and 36 feet (5-11 meters). It skimmed the top of our atmosphere on Friday, November 13, 2020. Astronomers spotted it one day later.

Comet C/2020 M3 (Atlas) is closest November 14

Discovered last June, Comet C/2020 M3 (Atlas) is closest to Earth – millions of miles away – on Saturday, November 14, 2020. It’s in an easy-to-find location, if you have a dark sky. Charts and photos here.

Watch online today: Small, close-passing asteroid

Watch online today as asteroid 2020 SW swoops in for its closest approach to Earth on Thursday. The asteroid will pass just 7% of the moon’s distance. Charts here for telescope users. How to watch online.