Enormous, hazardous asteroid to pass near Earth this week

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 10:41 hrs

Toutatis, a potentially hazardous asteroid with an estimated diameter of over 3 miles (5.4 km), will make its close approach to Earth this week, astronomers have revealed.

The asteroid was first viewed in 1934 and then officially discovered by Christian Pollas in 1989. Slooh Space Camera will cover its near-approach on Tuesday, December 11th, with several live shows on Slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 12 p.m. PST / 3 p.m. EST / 20:00 UTC -- accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh president Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy magazine columnist Bob Berman.

This is not the first time Toutatis has given Earth a close shave, as it returns to Earth every four years for a visit.

On September 29, 2004, the asteroid zipped by Earth at only 0.01 AU -- about 4 lunar distances.

On December 11th/12th, asteroid Toutatis will be a comfortable but still concerning 0.04 AU away from Earth, or about 18 lunar distances.

At its maximum brightness, Toutatis might be barely glimpsed through binoculars, and it should be very bright through Slooh telescopes at it's being tracked.

"We will be tracking asteroid Toutatis live from two observatory locations -- Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa, and Arizona," said Patrick Paolucci, president at Slooh.(ANI)

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