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: Computer model shows moon's core surrounded by liquid and it's caused by Earth's gravity

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

Titan offers clues to atmospheres of hazy planets

18 hours ago

When hazy planets pass across the face of their star, a curious thing happens. Astronomers are not able to see any changes in the range of light coming from the star and planet system.

Having fun with the equation of time

18 hours ago

If you're like us, you might've looked at a globe of the Earth in elementary school long before the days of Google Earth and wondered just what that strange looking figure eight thing on its side was.

The source of the sky's X-ray glow

Jul 27, 2014

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.

User comments : 0