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Newly Discovered Asteroid to Zoom within 25000 Miles of Earth

Sep 04, 2014 02:20 PM EDT

(Photo : Pixabay)

A newly discovered asteroid will zoom within 25,000 miles of Earth this Sunday, giving astronomers the unique opportunity to observe this fast-moving celestial object.

At its closest approach this Sunday, the 60-foot (20-meter) rock will safely pass 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) over New Zealand - about one-tenth the distance between here and the Moon.

NASA officials say that this latest near-Earth asteroid, dubbed 2014 RC, poses no threat to our planet or the satellites orbiting about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) overhead, but "its close approach creates a unique opportunity for researchers to observe and learn more about asteroids," NASA wrote in a news release.

Asteroid 2014 RC was initially discovered Aug. 31 by both the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., and the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Maui, Hawaii.

(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The space rock is expected to zoom past Earth on Sunday at about 2:18 p.m. EDT (11:18 a.m. PDT / 18:18 UTC), though stargazers will need telescopes to see it. And even if you miss the flyby, don't worry, because NASA officials expect 2014 RC to be in our planet's neighborhood in the future - though it most likely will not impact Earth. However, the asteroid's future motion will be closely monitored, NASA added.

An asteroid of about the same size exploded through the atmosphere over Russia's Ural Mountains in February 2013, causing considerable damage.

According to recent research displayed in a time-lapse video by the B612 Foundation, incoming asteroids slam into the Earth's atmosphere surprisingly often, some of them as powerful as nuclear bombs.

"While most large asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire country or continent have been detected, less than 10,000 of the more than a million dangerous asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire major metropolitan area have been found by all existing space or terrestrially-operated observatories," the foundation's CEO (and former shuttle pilot) Dr. Ed Lu stated in a press release.

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