Photo credit: NASA/JPL
(This image, from NASA, shows just how close the 2014 RC asteroid will come to Earth.)
According to the National Aeronautical and Space Agency (NASA) a 60-foot hunk of space rock is expected to whiz by Earth on Sunday, Sept. 7. Not to worry though, even with just 25,000 miles between Earth and the asteroid, it’s expected to safely pass by our “Blue Marble.” Just for a bit of perspective, the Moon is about 239,000 miles from Earth. The asteroid will be about a tenth of that distance.
According to a post from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “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 Haleakala [a volcano] on Maui, Hawaii.”
Additional observations, from other facilities, confirmed its existence.
At it’s closest point to Earth, at 2:18 p.m. on Sunday, the asteroid will zip over New Zealand. It won’t be visible to the naked eye, but amateur astronomers should be able to spot it with their telescopes. That said, it will be very fast-moving and they’ll only get a brief glimpse of it before it moves out of range.
The close flyby of 2014 RC — as the asteroid has been dubbed by NASA — will be an excellent opportunity for scientists around the world to study and observe this out of the ordinary event.
The celestial buzzing, from 2014 RC, may not be the last time the asteroid makes an appearance. It’s trajectory is likely to swing it back through out neighborhood at some point in the future, but it’s not expected to impact Earth next time either.
Meteorologist Alan Raymond