Asteroid passing by the Earth

It has been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), along with 782 known others, according to the

Discovered in December 2004, it is one of a class of "Apollo" asteroids whose orbits cross that of the Earth.

Initially there were concerns that the asteroid might collide with the Earth later this century. However, further analysis of its orbit has ruled this out - at least for the foreseeable future.

If XP14 did hit the Earth the effects would be devastating.

Scientists hope to gather valuable information about the asteroid by bouncing radar signals off it from the 230ft diameter Goldstone dish in California's Mojave desert.

The asteroid was expected to make its closest approach to Earth at 5:25am today.

At that moment it should have been 268,624 miles away, or almost the Moon's average distance from Earth, the Scotsman reports.