During sunrise on July 18-19, 2021, from the Baade telescope at Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, Peter Senchyna (Carnegie Observatories postdoctoral researcher) and Bryce Bolin (from Caltech) observed asteroid 2020AV2. This asteroid, discovered in 2020, is the only one known to revolve around the Sun in an orbit smaller than the orbit of Venus.
This object measures between 1 to 3 km, and is probably the closest object to the Sun ever observed with the Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory.
2020 AV2 belongs to a small class of asteroids known as Atyras, which are bodies with orbits that fall within Earth’s orbit. However, it represents a special case within this group as it lies entirely within the orbit of Venus.
Its observation is not simple because it is located in the heart of the Solar System, so it is visible to telescopes at specific times and during a limited window of time before sunrise, or after sunset.
In this particular case, the observations were made between 06:50 and 07:10 in the morning, just 24 degrees above the horizon. The images show the asteroid streaking across the sky at just over 1 arc second per minute. With the precise location of the asteroid, its orbital parameters were updated in the CPM (Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union) database.