An asteroid discovered by Chinese astronomers will make a near-Earth pass next week, posing no threat to the planet, sources with the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said Thursday.
The asteroid was first spotted by the observatory on Nov. 6. Observation stations in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy and the U.K. have since kept a close eye on it, confirming its existence and determining its orbit. The Minor Planet Center under the International Astronomical Union on Sunday confirmed the asteroid discovery and designated it 2020 VA1.
The closest distance the newly discovered object will be from the sun is about 145 million km. According to the observatory, the asteroid is heading toward Earth and is expected to make a flyby at 08:08 a.m., Beijing Time, on Nov. 20.
Zhao Haibin, an astronomer with the observatory, said the asteroid is expected to approach a distance of 4.48 million km from Earth's surface, or about 11.7 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
"Given the huge distance, the asteroid will pose no threat to Earth," Zhao said.
The Chinese observatory's Near-Earth Object Telescope enables China to carry out long-term asteroid monitoring and warning tasks, qualifying the country to join the International Asteroid Warning Network.