Giant asteroid to ‘narrowly miss’ Earth
A newly discovered asteroid the size of an office block will narrowly miss the Earth on Monday – coming 23 times closer than the moon
By Josie Ensor
24 Jun 2011
The space rock will reach within 11,000 miles of the surface and give off a light bright enough to be seen through a small telescope, experts said today.
It was only spotted on Wednesday by a robotic telescope in New Mexico that scans the skies for such hazards. An alert was then put out yesterday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center in Massachusetts.
The find was confirmed by Peter Birtwhistle, who has discovered dozens of asteroids from his own UK observatory, with a photo taken from Great Shefford in Berkshire.
It will be daylight in the UK when the asteroid, which has been named 2011 MD, makes its close encounter over the southern hemisphere.
But astronomers in other parts of the world, such as South America, will be able to watch it brighten and fade rapidly as it speeds through the starry background.