Friday, June 24, 2011

MD 2011: Close Asteriod Flyby June 27

Asteroid MD 2011, discovered recently, will sail past the earth only at 7,500 miles on (Monday) June 27. Although this event will hardly be visible, the asteroid passes by at 1330 UT, (9:30 am EDT) but the Americas, the Pacific, and eastern Asia will catch a glimpse of this asteroid  before the actual event begins. This will be one of the closest asteroids ever to pass earth, but don't worry. NASA analysts proclaim that there's no chance that MD 2011 will strike earth. The asteroid will be flung back into space on account of how close it will get, as seen in this diagram.

Observation of this asteroid, for enthusiasts, are slim. The farthest west and south on our planet will see it the best; so Australia, and New Zealand will most likely catch the best view. MD 2011 will be at magnitude 11.6; you won't be able to see it with your eye, but with a telescope, not binoculars. When it's at the magnitude, the asteroid will be around ten-thousand miles form earth.

For more observation tips, Sky&Telescope is who I'd like to suggest, while everyone here in Washington DC can view it around 3:30 am EDT (six hours before closest approach) at magnitude 13.5 and 50,000 miles away (approximate). "The asteroid will be very hard to observe after its closest approach, since it's departing more or less toward the Sun." writes Sky&Telescope.It orbits (approximately) every six years, so if you miss it this time, you might be able to see it in 2017.

After passing the closest point at which the asteroid will get, it will pass through the zone of geosynchronous satellites. What's that!? Simply stated, a geosynchronous satellite is a satellite in which passes over several similar points over its orbit; like orbiting exactly around the equator. "The chances of a collision with a satellite or manmade space junk are extremely small, albeit not zero," Space-Weather writes. Won't that be exciting, if the asteroid crashes into a piece of space junk, but needless to consider the damage done to a satellite.

Using the ephemeris from the IAU Minor Planet Center will help. "Make sure you enter the proper latitude and east longitude. With an object this close, a small difference in the observer's location makes a huge difference where it appears in the sky," Sky&Telecope warns.

Have a great viewing, and just hope MD 2011 comes into view!


  1. Here are the official results! (
    Asteroid 2011 MD flew past Earth on Monday, June 27th. At closest approach the ~10-meter space rock was only 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) above the planet's surface. NASA analysts said there was no chance it would strike Earth, and indeed it didn't.

    Astronomers around the world monitored the flyby. Using a remotely-controled telescope in Cerro Tololo, Chile, Joe Pollock of Appalachian State University obtained this light curve:

    [picture on site]

    "The brightness variations are due to the asteroid's spin," explains Pollock. "It appears to be rotating with a 23.3 or 11.6 minute period."

    UPDATE: A dramatic video recorded by Andre Paquette of Ottawa, Canada, shows the brightness of the asteroid oscillating as it races among the stars. "My light curve is a good match to Cerro Tololo's," says Paquette.

    more flyby movies and images: from Jure Skvarc of the Črni Vrh Observatory in Slovenia; from Marco Langbroek of Sierra Stars Obs., California; from Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; from Nick Howes of Siding Spring Australia; from Rafael Ferrando of the Observatory Pla d'Arguines in Segorbe, Spain; from Libor Vyskocil of the Observatory Upice in the Czech Republic; from Nick James of Chelmsford, UK; from Rolando Ligustri of Talmassons Observatory, Italy;
    Go to site for links, etc.


    The aftermath...