A newly discovered asteroid will buzz Earth this weekend. At closest approach on Sunday, the 60-foot-wide (18-meter-wide) rock will pass a safe 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) over New Zealand. That's about one-tenth the distance between here and the moon. It's also just beyond the orbit of our highest communication and weather satellites.
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 Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountains in 2013, causing considerable damage and hundreds of injuries. Astronomers in Arizona detected 2014 RC the night of Aug. 31. Stargazers will need telescopes to see Sunday's flyby with their own eyes, but the Slooh virtual observatory will stream the encounter online, starting at 10 p.m. ET Saturday. If you miss it, don't worry. It will be back in the neighborhood again one day.
- How NASA Could Head Off Asteroid Armageddon
- Hazardous Asteroid Turns Out to Be Rubble Pile
- Asteroid Threat in 2032? Don't Panic ... Yet