Asteroid 2014 RC makes close flyby Sunday

A newly discovered asteroid about the size of a suburban house will come far closer than the moon this Sunday.

New asteroid discovered on Aug. 31

An image provided by NASA in 2000 shows the near-Earth asteroid Eros. A 20-metre-wide asteroid called 2014 RC will pass within 40,000 kilometres of the Earth this Sunday. (NASA)

A newly discovered asteroid will buzz Earth this weekend.

At closest approach Sunday at 2 :18 p.m. ET (11:18 a.m. PT or 18:18 UTC), the 20-metre-wide rock will pass a safe 40,000 kilometres over New Zealand. That's about one-tenth the distance between here and the moon. It's also beyond the orbit of our highest communication and weather satellites, which are located in a region called the geosynchronous satellite ring.

NASA says this latest near-Earth asteroid — called 2014 RC  — poses no threat to either the home planet or orbiting spacecraft. A space rock of about the same size blasted through the atmosphere over Russia's Ural Mountains in 2013, causing considerable damage.

Astronomers in Arizona detected 2014 RC the night of Aug. 31.

Stargazers will need telescopes to see Sunday's flyby. Or they can watch the asteroid approach streamed live online by Slooh, an online observatory that broadcasts telescope feeds of celestial events on the internet. The broadcast will start at 10 p.m. ET Saturday.

The asteroid 2014 RC will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon during its closest approach on Sunday. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)


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