Accomplished amateur astronomer and blogger Peter Lake, a.k.a “AstroSwanny” from Australia captured some of the first images of what will be a very close pass of Earth by asteroid 2011 MD. He actually took the image at 07:00 UTC on June 26th with a 20 inch telescope in New Mexico controlled via his iPhone, through the Global Rent-A-Scope program. Ahh, the wonders of technology! As Peter says, “Its not every day, that an asteroid misses by less than 3-5 earth Radii.”
The asteroid, which was only detected last week, is about 25 to 55 feet (8 to 18 m) across, is expected to pass less than 8,000 miles above Earth’s surface around 1 p.m. EDT (17:00 UT) on Monday, June 27th. The time of closest approach will be observable 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.
Below is a video he compiled of the his observations of the pass, and used ten 120-second images for the video.
Peter also noted that “Its close approach is being followed with great interest, more for honing the skills and techniques of the Minor Planet Center and the network of asteroid hunting astronomers, rather than because it poses any real danger.”
Thanks to Peter and his Aartscope Blog for sharing these views with Universe Today.