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Close Encounter: Asteroid to kiss the earth on Monday
HYDERABAD: It will be a treat for sky gazers on Monday as a recently discovered " Asteroid 2011 MD" will be passing by extremely close to the earth - at a distance of only 10,000-12,000 km. Experts say that it will be visible in India.
Discovered on June 22 this year, the asteroid is estimated to be 8 to 18 metres long. It will pass by the earth on June 27 at 6.56 pm.
N Raghunandan Kumar of Planetary Society India said that there was no danger to the earth. "If it tries to enter the earth's atmosphere, the asteroid of this size would burn up. What is more interesting is this was discovered just two days ago though this asteroid existed for a long time now," said Kumar.
According to experts, the celestial encounter is going to be so close that earth's gravity will sharply alter the asteroid's trajectory.
At its closest point, a chunk of rock estimated to be 8 to 18 m across will pass in daylight over the southern Atlantic Ocean, near the Antarctica.
As it recedes away from the earth, it will pass through the zone of geosynchronous satellites. The chances of a collision with a satellite or manmade space-junk are extremely small but not zero, experts said.
"Judging from its brightness, it measures only 5 to 20 metres in diameter. One would expect an object of this size to come this close to earth about every 6 years on an average. For a brief time, it will be bright enough to be seen even with a medium-sized backyard telescope," said Kumar.