Newly discovered asteroid to buzz Earth this weekend

This graphic depicts the orbit of asteroid 2014 RC around the sun. A house-sized asteroid will safely fly past Earth on Sept. 7, 2014, at a distance equivalent to about one-tenth of the distance between Earth and the moon.


A newly discovered asteroid the size of a house will buzz Earth this weekend.

At closest approach Sunday, the 60-foot rock will pass a safe 25,000 miles over New Zealand. That's about one-tenth the distance between here and the moon. It's also beyond the orbit of our highest communication and weather satellites.

NASA says this latest near-Earth asteroid - called 20214 RC (R-C) - poses no threat to either our planet or orbiting spacecraft.

Astronomers in Arizona first detected 2014 RC the night of Aug. 31. Stargazers will need telescopes to see Sunday's flyby.

The asteroid is about the same size as the one that blasted through the atmosphere over Russia's Ural Mountains in 2013, causing considerable damage. That space rock -- estimated to weigh about 10 tons -- entered the Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 miles per hour and shattered into pieces about 18 to 32 miles above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement at the time.

However, in this case, astronomers say the asteroid is not on track to strike Earth. NASA says its orbit will bring the asteroid back into our neighborhood in the future, so its path will be closely monitored.