Christmas Eve Flyby – Asteroid 2003 SD220

The most recent asteroid to hit the headlines is 2003 SD220, which has been dubbed the Christmas Eve Asteroid by the press on account of its festive flyby date. Although the asteroid is due to come closest to Earth on the 24th December, there’s no cause for concern; it will still be 28.4 LD (Lunar Distances) away (that’s ~6,787,600 miles / ~11 million km!).

Asteroid 2003 SD220

Asteroid 2003 SD220 [Image: Arecibo Observatory/NASA/NSF]

Recent observations suggest that the asteroid is quite large at 2km (1.25 miles) in length. However, in spite of the asteroid’s massive size, it is thought that only professional and advanced amateur astronomers will be able to capture images of it on account of its great distance from Earth.

Observations of the space rock are particularly important; 2003 SD220 is on NASA’s NHATS list of potential human-accessible targets.

2003 SD220

The path of asteroid 2003 SD220 through our solar system [Image: NASA]

Although there have been some assertions in the media that the asteroid will cause earthquakes, there’s no cause for alarm; these claims are false! The asteroid will pass Earth at a safe distance and poses no threat to our planet (so there’s no excuse not to do your Christmas shopping!).

Want to know more about the Christmas Eve asteroid? Read the full article from EarthSky here!

About the author: Alice Rischer