Space Travel This Week: Asteroid Will Buzz the Earth
(Portland, Oregon) – The sky isn't exactly falling, but it's almost getting nicked by a rocky object the size of a house. (Above: a super moon over Portland, Oregon).
NASA said this week our homeworld will have a close encounter with a sizable asteroid on Sunday – September 7. It will not actually hit the Earth but it will zoom by at some 22,000 miles from the surface, which is closer than many satellites orbiting above.
The object was only discovered earlier this week and was named asteroid 2014 RC. The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona and the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii independently found the object, which is about 60 feet in diameter.
NASA said the object will not hit any satellites. Its path through our solar system will take it on another close encounter with the Earth down the road, but scientists say no future fly-by's will pose any dangers.
It will zoom by closest to New Zealand at 11:18 a.m. PDT (1818 GMT) on Sunday.
The object will not be bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, but some telescopes may catch sight of it, weather permitting. Two webcasts will keep an eye on the asteroid: the Slooh Community Observatory and the Virtual Telescope Project. Both start coverage the night before in the U.S.