How to see this strange little moon that may be space junk flying on Earth

How to see this strange little moon that may be space junk flying on Earth

This 1964 photo shows the Centaur missile in the upper stage. The 2020 SO space object might be one of those.


Tell the moon not to be jealous. Earth has another satellite now, but it’s just a temporary coup. The exact identity of the object, called the 2020 SO, remains an open question, but you can watch it on Monday, November 30, when it gets closer to Earth. The Virtual Telescope project will broadcast the flyby live.

The force of Earth’s gravitational pull captured an object in the orbit of our planet earlier this month, making 2020 SO a kind of little moon.

Usually we do We would expect an object like this to be an asteroidAnd there are a lot of those who fly in space. But the 2020 SO might have a more mundane identity. The 2020 SO orbit around the Sun – which is very similar to Earth’s – convinced researchers that it was probably not a rock. But it is actually a piece of junk space From NASA’s mission.

The organism’s closest approach to our planet will be on December 1. The Virtual Telescope Project will broadcast live starting at 2 PM PDT on November 30th.

The founder of the virtual telescope project Gianluca Masi was already able to capture a view of the small body on November 22. It appears as a dot on the background of the stars.

Watch the SO 2020 Virtual Telescope Project on November 22. Arrow points at the object.

Gianluca Massey / Virtual Telescope Project

Scientists at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) (CNEOS) analyzed and tracked the 2020 SO trajectory in time.

“One of the potential pathways for the 2020 SO brings the object very close to the Earth and the Moon in late September 1966,” CNEOS director Paul Chodas said in a NASA statement earlier in November. “It was like Eureka’s moment when a quick examination of the launch dates of the Lunar missions showed a match for the Surveyor 2. mission.”

NASA’s ill-fated Surveyor 2 lander ended up crashing on the surface of the moon, but the boosted Centaur rocket escaped into space.

NASA expects the 2020 SO to continue in Earth orbit until March 2021 when it enters a new orbit around the Sun. The upcoming close approach should give astronomers a chance to contact the formation of SO 2020 and tell us if it is really a leftover from the 1960s.

Even with the telescope viewing, the 2020 SO should look like a bright region of light traveling against the darkness in space. The cool thing is to get a chance to see a piece of space history going back to its ancient lands.

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