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Asteroid 4179 Toutatis

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#1 JimK

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 11:09 PM

This evening I was able to view the asteroid 4179 Toutatis (as described in Sky & Telescope Dec'12, p53) using a Questar 3.5. Although only a small (2-3 mi) asteroid, it is passing about 4.3 million miles from us (~17x our distance to Luna), and it moves! Yes, using a 16mm eyepiece and the internal Barlow lens (~160x), I was able to see it move over the course of a few seconds (especially when it was near star SAO 110178, which was just about occulted by the asteroid). To find it, I just looked for a faint dot of light in the starfield that moved in a few minutes.

I've attached the sketch I made during this observing session (no Barlow, thus ~80x) over the course of an hour.

This fast-moving asteroid was a real fine sight to enjoy, and so unusual to see moving in "real-time". Tonight it is/was north of Alpha Psc, but it will be rapidly moving past Xi2 {not Zeta !} and Mu Cet over the next 2 nights. If the weather cooperates for you, move fast and try to see it, then post your results and/or tips for others.

{Edited to correct my Greek.}

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#2 EddWen

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 01:58 PM

Well done.

I guess the SoCal marine layer does not go inland to ABQ ;-)

#3 JimK

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 08:03 PM

Well done.
I guess the SoCal marine layer does not go inland to ABQ ;-)

Thanks.

Nope, Arizona is our buffer zone, so to speak. But perhaps it will get cloudy late tonight ...






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