Student team provides real-time video of asteroid Toutatis

Dec 11, 2012
The Clay Center Observatory’s main instrument is this reflector with a 25-inch (0.64-m) aperture.

(Phys.org)—An asteroid that some day might threaten Earth is passing relatively close by on the night of December 11–12, and its gliding path among the stars will be tracked by a team of high-school students at the Clay Center Observatory in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Weather permitting, real-time high-definition video from the 's 25-inch-diameter telescope will be available from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. (EST) on December 11th and can be freely accessed via the observatory's Ustream channel.

The asteroid, known as 4179 Toutatis, is a lumpy, elongated object roughly 3 miles (5 km) long. It circles the Sun in a looping oval that ranges from just inside Earth's orbit to well beyond Mars. This orbit is unstable, and some day Toutatis might collide with Earth or be flung by Jupiter into the Sun or completely out of the system.

Toutatis returns to Earth's vicinity every 4 years, and this time around it will come its closest at a distance of 4.3 million miles (6.9 million km) at 1:40 a.m. EST on December 12th (10:40 p.m. PST on the 11th). For a few days, the asteroid will appear bright enough to be visible in moderate to large backyard telescopes as it glides through the constellations of Cetus and Pisces, which are currently high in the evening sky.

The Clay Center Observatory is located on the campus of the Dexter and Southfield Schools in Brookline, Massachusetts. A team of students led by Nicholas Weber, Nicholas Veo, and Samuel Lapides will coordinate the observations. They will record changes in the 's brightness over time to determine its and to provide a visual counterpart to being conducted in California and Puerto Rico.

Explore further: NASA: Engineer vital to 1969 moon landing dies

Provided by Clay Center Observatory

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

ESO Views of Earth-Approaching Asteroid Toutatis

Sep 29, 2004

Unique Photos from La Silla and Paranal Measure the Distance Today, September 29, 2004, is undisputedly the Day of Toutatis, the famous "doomsday" asteroid. Not since the year 1353 did this impressive "space rock" pas ...

Biggest asteroid in 35 years swings close to Earth

Nov 09, 2011

(AP) -- An asteroid as big as an aircraft carrier zipped by Earth on Tuesday in the closest encounter by such a massive space rock in more than three decades. Scientists ruled out any chance of a collision ...

New horseshoe orbit Earth-companion asteroid discovered

Apr 06, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Apostolos Christou and David Asher from the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland announced the discovery of an asteroid near Earth called Asteroid 2010 SO16 and their findings were published ...

NASA radar images asteroid 2007 PA8

Nov 06, 2012

(Phys.org)—Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., have obtained several radar images depicting near-Earth asteroid 2007 PA8. The images ...

Recommended for you

Testing immune cells on the International Space Station

8 hours ago

The human body is fine-tuned to Earth's gravity. A team headed by Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich's Institute of Anatomy is now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

13 hours ago

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Apr 19, 2014

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.