KEEP your eyes on the skies this Saturday morning - a newly-discovered asteroid will be passing close to Earth.
The asteroid, named 2012 DA14, will shoot by 27,000km above Earth's surface, even closer than some high-orbiting communications satellites.
Through a telescope it will look to be about the size of a distant star and will move rapidly across the sky.
"Objects this size come close to Earth roughly every 30 years or so," astronomer Dave Reneke, from Australasian Science Magazine, said.
"For a brief time it should be bright enough that anyone with a small telescope or binoculars to spot it.
"The chance of a collision with one of our communication satellites is small, but not impossible."
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is thought to be about 50 metres across with an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tons.
NASA says this is the one of the largest asteroids ever to come this close to Earth.
If a space rock this size were to hit it would not destroy Earth, but it would produce the equivalent of 2.4 megatons of TNT and form a crater about a kilometre wide.
To try and spot the asteroid, Mr Reneke recommends looking a little below the Southern Cross from 4.30am onwards for its closest approach rendezvous at 6:26 am.
"You are looking for a slow moving 'starlike' object as it zips by the Earth from the south to west," he said.
Mr Reneke said NASA and other astronomers routinely tracked asteroids and comets under a near-Earth observation program, designed to seek out potentially dangerous objects that could pose a risk to Earth.
More information can be found at www.davidreneke.com.