Asteroid 2011 MD Whizzes by Earth

Discovered only a few days ago, the house-sized asteroid 2011 MD whizzed by at only 7,600 miles above Earth’s surface on June 27 at approximately 1:00 p.m. EDT. This approximately 10-yard rock came closer than many communications satellites and will rapidly recede over the next few hours and days. Rob Suggs, operating a Marshall Space Flight Center telescope in New Mexico, captured several images of the asteroid on the night of  June 26.

At the time these 30-second exposures were made, the asteroid was about 80,000 miles away from Earth. At such a close distance, the asteroid appears as a streak due to its motion relative to us, even in a short exposure.


Image courtesy of Rob Suggs, NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.


International Space Station Shines Brightly in Night Skies

Not even clouds could obscure the International Space Station as it passed directly over Huntsville, Ala. on the evening of June 13 at 9:15 p.m. CDT. Shining as bright as the planet Venus, the space station took nearly four minutes to traverse the sky before disappearing in the murk to the Northeast. Its passage was watched by the all sky meteor camera at Marshall Space Flight Center, which took this composite image.