12.12.12 – A close encounter with an asteroid

An image of Asteroid 4179 Toutatis taken on Nov. 26, 1996. (Steve Ostro/JPL/NASA)

‘Hazardous’ asteroid flies by Earth this week (12.12.12)

A five-kilometre wide asteroid is zipping past Earth this week, giving stargazers a show and doomsayers a bit of a scare.

The hunk of rock, dubbed 4179 Toutatis, made its closest approach during the early hours of Wednesday morning, getting within 6.9 million kilometres of our planet, or approximately 18 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.

Anyone with a moderate to large backyard telescope will be able to see the asteroid over the next few days, as it passes through the constellations of Cetus and Pisces.

Several websites are tracking the asteroid as it flies by. The Slooh Space Camera project is providing a live view of the asteroid on its website, streaming from observatories in Arizona and the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa.

The Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory, located in Ceccano, Italy, is also offering a live stream as part of the Virtual Telescope Project.

Unstable orbit

The lumpy, elongated rock has an unstable orbit, circling the sun in a looping oval that ranges from just inside Earth’s orbit to well beyond Mars.

First sighted in 1934, Toutatis has frequently been making close approaches to Earth, nearing the planet’s vicinity every four years since its formal discovery in 1989. It came particularly close in 2004 — about four times the distance between the Earth and the moon.

Because of its orbit and its frequent near-approaches, Toutatis is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid.

“This [most recent approach] has gotten tied up in some people’s minds with the Mayan calendar and the world ending,” Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky and Telescope Magazine, told the Boston Globe.

“It’s not going to end the world.”

Astronomers predict that eventually, Toutatis will be flung either into the Sun or completely out of the solar system by Jupiter’s orbit.

There is also the possibility that it may some day collide with the Earth — but astronomers say that likely won’t happen for at least another 600 years.

NASA’s Near-Earth Object program office tracks the paths of both near-Earth asteroids and comets. As of Dec. 9, 2012, the NEO office said it has discovered 9,487 near-Earth asteroids.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/12/12/asteroid-toutatis-earth-approach.html

More Information:

Asteroid Toutatis passed within 18 lunar distances on December 11-12

Asteroid Toutatis was not a surprise to astronomers. It’s known, which you might have guessed because it has a proper name, instead of just a numerical designation. Astronomers first sighted and cataloged Toutatis in 1934, giving it the designation 1934 CT, but they quickly lost sight of it again. The asteroid remained lost for several decades – all the while unseen as it made its every-four-year sweep past Earth’s orbit – until it was rediscovered in 1989. Afterwards, when its orbit was pinned down enough that there was no danger of losing sight of it again, the International Astronomical Union officially named this object after the Celtic god Toutatis (Teutates).

Now Toutatis is known as one of the largest of the Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). By definition, PHAs come within at least 4.6 million miles (7.5 million kilometers) of Earth. That’s approximately 19.5 lunar distances, or about the distance of Toutatis at this 2012 passage. Plus, to be considered potentially hazardous, these objects must have a diameter of at least 330 to 500 feet (100 to 150 meters). That’s big enough to cause regional devastation to human settlements unprecedented in human history in the case of a land impact, or a major tsunami in the case of an ocean impact.

Of course, Toutatis is much bigger than this minimum size required for PHAs. We’re lucky it’s not on any sort of collision course with Earth for hundreds of years into the future, if not much much longer. In fact, it’s very likely this object has been passing Earth’s orbit every four years for billions of years. It’s likely it’ll continue to do so, harmlessly, for billions of years more.

By the way, another asteroid also passed close this week – designated 2012 XE54. This little space rock is estimated to be only between 50 and 165 feet across (15-50 meters). Although it would cause some damage if it struck earthly land, the damage would be local – not regional – and thus 2012 XE54 isn’t big enough to be categorized as a PHA. 2012 XE54 passed Earth on the same day as Toutatis, December 11, but earlier in the day. 2012 XE54 had been found one day before its closest approach to Earth. Traveling at a speed of 13 kilometers per second, it passed only only 139,500 miles (224,503 kilometers) away, or slightly more than half the moon’s distance (0.6 lunar distances).

Read more: Close pass and possible asteroid eclipse of 2012 XE54

When will the large asteroid 4179 Toutatis pass as close to Earth again as it did on December 11-12? According to Universe Today:

Next time Toutatis will approach at least this close to Earth is in November of 2069 when the asteroid will fly by at a distance of only 0.0198 AU (7.7 lunar distances).

Bottom line: Asteroid 4179 Toutatis passed within 18 lunar distances – about 4 million miles – on the night of December 11-12, 2012. Here are some images and videos from that passage.

PS Feb 15 – Asteroid 2012 DA14 near collision with Earth

by Mitch Battros – Earth Changes Media

On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet’s surface. The space rock, designated “2012 DA14”, has NASA’s attention. “This is a record-setting close approach,” says Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program at JPL. “Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we’ve never seen an object this big get so close to Earth.” 

Asteroid “2012 DA14” measures some 50 meters wide

– the impact of a 50-meter asteroid created a mile wide crater known as “Meteor Crater” in Arizona when it struck about 50,000 years ago. Also, in 1908, something about the size of 2012 DA14 exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia, leveling hundreds of square miles of forest. Researchers are still studying the “Tunguska Event” for clues to the impacting object.

NASA radars will be monitoring the space rock as it approaches Earth closer than many man-made satellites.

The asteroid will thread the gap between low-Earth orbit, where the ISS and many Earth observation satellites are located, and the higher belt of geosynchronous satellites, which provide weather data and telecommunications. 

NASA’s Goldstone radar in the Mojave Desert is scheduled to ping 2012 DA14 almost every day from Feb. 6th through 20th. The echoes will not only pinpoint the orbit of the asteroid, allowing researchers to better predict future encounters, but also reveal physical characteristics such as size, spin, and reflectivity. A key outcome of the observing campaign will be a 3D radar map showing the space rock from all sides.

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  1. Brenda Brown says

    Yes, I know the scriptures you’re talking about Starheater. I totally believe this scripture is talking about an asteroid. Considering the huge changes that will occur all over the earth during the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, these things have to hit key sections of the earth to cause that much destruction.

  2. Starheater says

    According to the Bible, “something the size of a mountain will fall in the sea”.

    Revelation 8:8-11
    8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
    9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
    10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
    11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

    In those verses, they talk about the sea, rivers, and fountains of waters. If the interpretation is good, the this huge mountain (asteroid) will go deep in the ocean, enough to contaminate underwater mainstream that fournish very wide sector of the Earth.
    God Bless


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