Newly discovered 20-meters wide (60 feet) asteroid named 2014 RC will enter the Earth – Moon system on Sunday, September 7, 2014, and flyby just 40 000 km (25 000 miles / 0.1 LD) from Earth. That's almost inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites.
The asteroid comes just beyond the orbit of Mars and there is no danger of a collision with Earth. 2014 RC is the sixth asteroid this year that is known to have come within 100 000 km of Earth.
The closest approach to our planet will happen around 18:18 UTC over New Zealand when the asteroid is expected to brighten to magnitude +11.5. It will be unobservable to the unaided eye. However, amateur astronomers with small telescopes might glimpse the fast-moving appearance of this near-Earth asteroid.
2014 RC was discovered on August 31 at magnitude +19 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 Haleakalā on Maui, Hawaii.
While the asteroid will not impact Earth, its orbit will bring it back to our planet's neighborhood in the future. The asteroid's future motion will be closely monitored, but no future threatening Earth encounters have been identified.
Asteroid 2014 RC
This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Asteroid 2014 RC orbit diagram by NASA / JPL
This asteroid is about the same size as Chelyabinsk asteroid that blasted through the atmosphere over Russia's Ural Mountains on February 15, 2013, and exploded 28 km (18 miles) above the surface. That object released the equivalent energy of more than 20 atomic bombs, caused considerable damage and hundreds of injuries.
Asteroid 2014 RC – live coverage
Virtual Telescope Project will offer a live, online event sharing real-time images of 2014 RC with live commentary by their scientific staff. The online, free session is scheduled for September 6, 2014, starting at 22:00 UTC.
Slooh will track Asteroid 2014 RC live from its flagship observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. Their coverage starts at 02:00 UTC on September 7. Find international times here: goo.gl/YyBeqj
Featured image: Artist view of an asteroid passing near Earth. Credit: P. Carril / ESA
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