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The Universe Has a Gift for Us This Christmas (Spoilers: It’s an Asteroid)

pickle asteroid

It seems that Earth is the place to be for the holidays, because right after our visit from “Spooky” the Halloween “asteroid” (which was actually a dead comet), we now have Asteroid 2003 SD220, AKA asteroid 163899 on its way to pay us a Christmas visit. That may have sounded more ominous than I intended. I apologize.

The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth on Christmas Eve of all days, which would make it a fun holiday gift for the amateur (or professional!) astronomer in your life. It clocks in at about 1.25 miles long, and is travelling at about 17.5 miles/second.

What strikes me the most about this asteroid is its shape; Gizmodo referred to it as a pickle or a chicken finger. Personally, I find that I agree with the “chicken finger” assessment. But if we’re staying with holiday-themed names, then it totally looks like a certain, uh… holiday character from a popular television show.

How long ’til you think they make that joke?

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.