New-found asteroid to fly over New Zealand

20:48, Sep 04 2014
Asteroid 2014 RC
This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth. At time of closest approach, it will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Times are Universal Time.

New Zealand will be in the box seat when a newly-discovered asteroid passes super close to Earth on Monday morning.

The 20-metre asteroid, discovered in the past week, would be about 40,000km from Earth, Nasa said.

At the time of closest approach, based on current calculations to be about 6.18pm Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Sunday (6.18am Monday NZT), the asteroid would be roughly over New Zealand.

The small asteroid, designated 2014 RC, "will safely pass very close to Earth", Nasa said.

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Despite being only about a tenth of the distance from the centre of Earth to the moon at its closest point, the asteroid would not be observable to the unaided eye.

"However, amateur astronomers with small telescopes might glimpse the fast-moving appearance of this near-Earth asteroid," Nasa said.

"While this celestial object does not appear to pose any threat to Earth or satellites, its close approach creates a unique opportunity for researchers to observe and learn more about asteroids.

"While 2014 RC will not impact Earth, its orbit will bring it back to our planet's neighbourhood in the future.  The asteroid's future motion will be closely monitored, but no future threatening Earth encounters have been identified."