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Asteroid to buzz Earth Monday, June 27th

June 27, 2011
Asteroid Buzz

Each of these two frames is a combination of five 20-second exposures, taken of Asteroid 2011 MD on June 23, 2011, from 1:41 to 1:45 Universal Time (credit: Peter Birtwhistle/Great Shefford Obs.)

Asteroid 2011 MD, a chunk of rock estimated to be 25 to 55 feet across, is estimated to pass less than 8,000 miles above the Earth’s surface around 4:30 p.m. EDT (20:30 UT) on Monday, June 27th.

The actual event will be observable only from South Africa and parts of Antarctica, but the approach will be visible across Australia, New Zealand, southern and eastern Asia, and the western Pacific.

According to Sky & Telescope, the asteroid’s orbit is uncannily similar to Earth’s orbit, but there’s no chance that the asteroid will hit Earth on this approach, and almost no risk at its next close approach, in 2022, . If the asteroid did strike, it would probably explode in the upper atmosphere.

This is not the closest known asteroid approach; however, this is probably the biggest known asteroid to have come this close.

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