Monday, 15 September 2014

Asteroid 2014 RC passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 RC passed by the Earth at a distance of 39 910 km (0.1 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.03% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun - closer than some satellites), slightly after 6.00 pm GMT on Sunday 7 September 2014, passing directly over New Zealand and parts of the South Pacific. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented only a minor threat. 2014 RC has an estimated equivalent diameter of 8-26 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 8-26 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 36 and 18 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

Image of 2014 RC with a minute long exposure, showing the asteroid's movement as a long streak, about 30 minutes before its closest approach to the Earth on 7 September 2014. Ernesto Guido/Nick Howes/Martino Nicolini/Universe Today.

2014 RC was discovered on 1 September 2014 (six days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is located in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2014 RC implies that it was the third asteroid (asteroid C) discovered in the first half of September 2014 (period 2014 R).

The path of 2014 RC at its closest to Earth. NASA/JPL/Caltech

2014 RC has a 549 day year orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 4.6° to the plane of the Solar System, which takes it from 0.82 AU from the Sun (i.e. 82% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 1.80 AU from the Sun (i.e. 180% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably more than the distance at which the planet Mars orbits the Sun). It is therefore classed as an Apollo Group Asteroid (an asteroid that is on average further from the Sun than the Earth, but which does get closer). This means that close encounters between 2014 RC and the Earth are fairly common, with the last thought to have occurred in December 2009 next one predicted for September 2017. 

The calculated orbit of 2014 RC. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

See also...


Asteroid 2014 RT17 passed by the Earth at a distance of 1 427 000 km (3.69 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.95% of the average...



Asteroid 2014 RS17 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 4 103 000 km (10.69 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 2.7% of the average...



Asteroid 2014 QP33 passed by the Earth at a distance of 14 330 000 km (37.47 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 10% of the average...


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