A house-sized asteroid that escaped detection until just earlier this week, is planning on cutting inside the orbits of a a handful of geosynchronous communications and weather satellites as it flies above New Zealand. That’s pretty close at 22,000 miles from Earth’s surface (about a tenth of the distance to the moon).The fact that scientists can say that this will occur at exactly 2:18 p.m. EDT on Sunday adds some comfort to the fact that they say it won’t strike the planet.
Asteroid 2014 RC: Just discovered
“Asteroid 2014 RC was initially discovered on the night of August 31 by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, and independently detected the next night by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope, located on the summit of Haleakal? on Maui, Hawaii,” NASA officials said in a statement.
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Despite the proximity, don’t spend too much time looking to the sky, it won’t be visible to the naked eye, but given weather conditions, it’s possible that amateur astronomers could get a glimpse if they’re looking in the right place.
For those interested, you’re probably better off tuning into one of the two webcasts that will be covering the flyby. The Slooh Community Observatory and The Virtual Telescope Project will both be covering the event hours before the event (Sept. 6 at 10 p.m. EDT and Sept. 6 at 6:00 PM respectively).
No danger to Earth
NASA is also making it quite clear that there are no satellites in danger but might give some insight into asteroids given its flight path that will get it that close to the Earth.
“While 2014 RC will not impact Earth, its orbit will bring it back to our planet’s neighborhood in the future,” NASA officials said in the same statement. “The asteroid’s future motion will be closely monitored, but no future threatening Earth encounters have been identified.”
There are over 10,000 near-Earth objects that NASA is presently tracking with others, if 2014 RC is any indication, still out there.