NASA astronomers track the progress of more than 11,000 near-Earth objects.A rogue asteroid the size of a house is being carefully tracked by NASA as it flies past Earth this weekend. The asteroid, nicknamed Pitbull, is expected to skim past Earth at only 25,000 miles (40,234 km) away – a distance 10 times closer to the planet than the moon.
The 60ft-wide (20m-wide) space rock was discovered only days ago and is officially known as 2014 RC.NASA said the Pitbull will fly closest to New Zealand at around 8:20pm UK time tomorrow (Sunday), but will not be visible to the naked eye. “Amateur astronomers with small telescopes might be able to catch a glimpse as it zips by,” NASA spokesperson said. The progress of Pitbull will also be tracked live online by Nasa and astronomy site Slooh. The asteroid is a similar size to the rock which caused enormous damage to the city of Chelyabinsk in Siberia. Last year’s explosion generated the equivalent energy of more than 20 atomic bombs detonating and left more than 1,000 people injured while damaging thousands of buildings. Astronomers at Nasa, who track the movements of the more than 11,000 near-Earth objects, are confident Pitbull will not strike the planet. The NASA spokesperson said the near passage of the asteroid should be cherished by space fans. “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,” the spokesperson added