A giant asteroid will make a flyby of Earth over the next few days, and armchair astronomers can watch the action live on their computers.
The near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which is about 3 miles wide, will zoom within 4.3 million miles of Earth during its closest approach early Wednesday morning, Dec. 12. That’s too far away to pose any impact threat on this pass, but close enough to put on a pretty good show through top-notch telescopes, researchers say.
And some of those scopes will be tracking Toutatis’ movements for the benefit of skywatchers around the world. The online Slooh Space Camera and Virtual Telescope Project, for example, will both stream live, free footage of the asteroid from professional-quality observatories.
Slooh will webcast Toutatis views from a scope in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa beginning at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Dec. 11. Another show will follow at 10 p.m. EST tonight (0300 GMT Wednesday), with footage from an instrument in Arizona. You can watch them at Slooh’s website: http://www.slooh.com.
Both shows will feature commentary from Slooh president Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman. [Photos: Asteroids in Deep Space]