Asteroid set to buzz Earth - closest to New Zealand

The passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth. Graphic / NASA
The passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth. Graphic / NASA

A newly discovered asteroid will buzz Earth on Monday.

At closest approach on Sunday, the 20-metre rock will pass a safe 40,200 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.

It's due to be closest to us at about 6.18am on Monday, New Zealand time.

Nasa says this latest near-Earth asteroid -- called 20214 RC (R-C) -- 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. If you miss it, don't worry. It will be back in the neighbourhood again someday.

Next article - Explainer: How do satellites orbit the Earth?

-AP

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