A small asteroid, estimated between 16 and 65 feet in diameter, whipped past Earth this afternoon missing by a mere 7,600 miles.

Asteroid 2011 MD approached Earth at 1 p.m. EDT a full three and-a-half hours later than astronomers first predicted, the AP reports.

The space agency had earlier predicted no probability of the asteroid striking the Earth. NASA's @AsteroidWatch tweeted last week: "There is no chance that 2011 MD will hit Earth but scientists will use the close pass as opportunity to study it w/ radar observations."

But according to NASA, the asteroid was in a very earth-like orbit about the Sun, closer to the Earth than the Moon. And for a brief time, NASA predicted that the rock would be bright enough to be seen with even a modest-sized telescope.

Diagrams from the space agency indicate that the location of closest approach for Asteroid 2011 MD was between the southern tip of South Africa and Antartica. But astronomers from Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the western Pacific were expected to see the approach, according to Wired.com.

Full story: ABC News