Asteroid 2014 RC to flyby Earth on Sunday
A tiny remnant of the solar system’s formation, an asteroid designated 2014 RC, will pass very close to Earth on Sunday, Sept. 7. At 2:18 p.m. EDT (11:18 a.m. PDT / 1818 GMT), the asteroid will conduct closest approach over New Zealand. Far from the hunk of space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs, 2014 RS is estimated to be about 60 feet (20 meters) in size.
According to NASA, 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 Haleakalā on Maui, Hawaii. Both reported their observations to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Additional follow-up observations by the Catalina Sky Survey and the University of Hawaii’s 88-inch (2.2-meter) telescope on Mauna Kea confirmed the orbit of 2014 RC.
At its closest approach, 2014 RC will be about 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) from Earth. The asteroid’s apparent magnitude at that time will be about 11.5, rendering it unobservable to the unaided eye. Amateur astronomers with small telescopes might glimpse the fast-moving appearance of this near-Earth asteroid.
The asteroid will pass below Earth and the geosynchronous ring of communications and weather satellites orbiting about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above our planet’s surface. Asteroid 2014 RC closes approach creates a unique opportunity for researchers to observe and learn more about asteroids.
2014 RC will not impact Earth and poses no threat to the planet or other orbiting spacecraft. 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.
For a heliocentric view of the orbit of asteroid 2014 RC with respect to Earth and other planets, visit: 2014 RC
Heather Smith's fascination for space exploration – started at the tender age of twelve while she was on a sixth-grade field trip in Kenner, Louisiana, walking through a mock-up of the International Space Station and seeing the “space potty” (her terminology has progressed considerably since that time) – she realized at this point that her future lay in the stars. Smith has come to realize that very few people have noticed how much spaceflight technology has improved their lives. She has since dedicated herself to correcting this problem. Inspired by such classic literature as Anne Frank’s Diary, she has honed her writing skills and has signed on as The Spaceflight Group’s coordinator for the organization’s social media efforts.