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Asteroid 2014RC to speed past Earth Sunday

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A newly discovered asteroid the size of a house will pass close to earth on Sunday bringing the space rock to within 25,000 miles above New Zealand during it's closest approach. NASA confirmed on Wednesday that Asteroid 2014RC will "safely pass" by our planet.

Astronomers discovered the asteroid during an astronomical scan of the evening skies from Tucson, Arizona on August 31 and quickly reported their findings to lead astronomers at Minor Planet Center in Massachusetts.

The fast moving space rock is scheduled to pass over the southern Pacific Ocean at 2:18 p.m. EDT (18:18 GMT) on September 7, less than 3,000 miles from earth's ring of communications and weather satellites located in geostationary orbit.

"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," stated NASA spokesperson DC Agle on Tuesday from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Backyard stargazers may have an opportunity to view 2014 RC this weekend using a telescope with a good magnification. However, the Earth's moon will be nearly full proving light pollution for the approaching celestial object.

Atlanta's Tellus Science Museum's chief astronomer David Dundee said that the asteroid's small size "is way too faint to observe at magnitude 15.26. That’s about 4000 times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye, and at best it might be a speck when photographed".

Dundee adds, "This object is about the same size as the object that hit over Russia about a year ago. With improved technology these near miss asteroids are becoming almost an everyday discovery."

(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace, science and technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)

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