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Asteroid to buzz Earth on Sunday (but we’ll survive)

A graphic depicting the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014 (times indicated on the graphic are UTC). NASA/JPL-Caltech

TORONTO – Tell Bruce Willis to stand down: The asteroid heading toward Earth isn’t a threat to life on our planet.

On Sunday, Sept. 7, around 2:18 p.m ET, Asteroid 2014 RC will safely glide by Earth at a distance of roughly 40,000 km – about one-tenth the distance from the centre of Earth to the moon.

It may not sound close. And it isn’t quite close enough to be a threat.

But in a universe that uses light-years to calculate distances, it’s a hair’s breadth.

This graphic depicts the orbit of asteroid 2014 RC around the sun. NASA/JPL-Caltech

The asteroid will pass below Earth’s geosynchronous satellites, which orbit about 36,000 km above our planet. NASA said that it doesn’t believe that it poses any threat to satellites.

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Though the rocky bit of space debris is making a close pass, you won’t be able to see it with the naked eye: it’s only 20 metres in diameter, about the size of a house. But anyone with a small telescope (4″ or larger) will be able to catch it.

READ MORE: Doomsday asteroids: Here we go again

Asteroid 2014 RC was discovered on Aug. 31 by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona.

The close pass is a great opportunity for scientists to further study the asteroid and refine calculations of further passes.

If you’d like to track the event live, visit Slooh or the Virtual Telescope Project.

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