3-Mile-Wide Asteroid Toutatis Buzzes By Earth

Toutatis, a 3-mile-wide asteroid, is buzzing by Earth Tuesday night. The Clay Center Observatory is offering a free viewing of the asteroid from 5 pm through 11 pm EST.

Toutatis is a well-known asteroid that makes a fly-by of Earth every four years, reports Wired. The asteroid’s passing is also closely watched by astronomers because it is so close to our planet.

The near-Earth asteroid has come as close as one million miles to our planet (about four times the distance between Earth and the moon), though this year’s pass will be around 3.7 million miles.

The 3-mile-wide asteroid was first discovered in 1934, but it was considered lost until it was “officially” found in 1989. It is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid because of how close it comes to Earth. The classification, however, does not mean that scientists believe the asteroid will ever hit us.

Along with the Clay Center Observatory, the Slooh Space Camera and Virtual Telescope Project will also broadcast the 3-mile-wide asteroid’s passing, notes Fox News. The Slooh camera is broadcasting Toutatis’ passing from a scope located in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Another show will follow with views recorded from Arizona. Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman, who will help with commentary at Slooh, stated:

“Slooh technical staff will let the public follow this fast-moving asteroid in two different ways. In one view, the background stars will be tracked at their own rate and the asteroid will appear as an obvious streak or a moving time lapse-dot across the starry field.”

The second view will track Toutatis, making the background stars appear to whiz by. The Virtual Telescope Project will also offer its own free webcast about the asteroid on Thursday at 3 pm EST.

Check out the live-stream below to see the 3-mile-wide asteroid buzzing by Earth.

Live stream by Ustream