Astronomers have just discovered an asteroid that is expected come close enough to Earth Monday that it will be visible with amateur telescopes.
The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research centre (LINEAR) spotted Asteroid 2011 MD on June 22. It has an orbit similar to Earth’s.
The asteroid will be visible from parts of South Africa and Antarctica when it makes its closest approach at 1:14 p.m. EDT (1714 GMT), passing just 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometers) from the Earth’s surface. The rock will be so close that its trajectory will be sharply altered by the Earth’s gravity.
“There is no chance that 2011 MD will hit Earth but scientists will use the close pass as opportunity to study it w/ radar observations,” NASA’s @AsteroidWatch tweeted last week.
Scientists say there is no danger of the bus-sized object striking Earth this time, but an impact is possible when it makes the next pass in 2022.
“Asteroid 2011 MD measures about 10 meters. Stony asteroids less than 25 m would break up in Earth’s atmosphere & not cause ground damage,” NASA wrote on their Twitter page.
The record for near-miss asteroids was set in February when 2011 CQ1 came with 3,400 miles (5,471 kilometers) of the planet.
Update (1:50 p.m. ET): The Faulkes Telescope Project captured several photos of the asteroid as it passed by the Earth.
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