Mayan Calendar End of the World? 8 Things to Know About 3-Mile-Long Asteroid 4179 Toutatis
By Arlene Paredes | December 11, 2012 1:31 PM EST
The Mayan calendar end of the world 2012 predictions does not mention asteroid Toutatis, but it is going to buzz Earth in two days. Does it pose any threat to the planet?
Here are 8 Things to Know about Asteroid 4179 Toutatis
1. Asteroid Toutatis was discovered in 1989, and it approaches Earth every four years. It is visible to telescope-aided eyes.
2. Peanut-shaped Toutatis measures 2.7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.
3. The potentially dangerous asteroid will be closest to Earth on December 12 at 0740 (UTC). There is no reason to be alarmed: Toutatis will pass from a safe distance. Its closest approach will be 4.4 million miles away, or 18 times the distance of the Earth from the moon.
4. "There is no threat of impact with our planet," said astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, curator of the Planetarium of Rome and head of the Virtual Telescope Project. In its report, Examiner.com called Toutatis a "potentially killer asteroid" but also noted it "poses no impact hazard for hundreds of years."
5. Il Messagero reported that Toutatis is being "driven by the gravitational force of the Earth and Jupiter." As such, "the object is expanding its orbit," meaning it will be farther from Earth each time it approaches.
6. Those who would like to see Toutatis should point their telescope between the constellations of Pisces and the Whale. (See this Space.com video of Toutatis courtesy of the Virtual Telescope Project.)
7. Scientists are closely observing Toutatis but not for reasons involving threats. They will merely analyze and compare data from 2008 and 2004, up to the first records.
8. Toutatis was a Celtic god known to protect tribes and worshipped in ancient Gaul and Britain.
Be Informed: No Need to Push Mayan Calendar End of the World Panic Button
It helps to be informed. You are likely to see in social media feeds that an asteroid is approaching Earth, but relax. This same asteroid has been buzzing Earth for a long time now.
The scientists couldn't be clearer that Toutatis is too far to impact Earth when it makes its nearest approach on December 12.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Flight MH17 Attack: Russians Claim 'Putin A Terrorist,' Memorial at Dutch Embassy Overflows [PHOTOS]
- Typhoon Rammasun Claims 18 Lives in China, Incurs $4.32B Losses (PHOTOS)
- Ellen DeGeneres Caught Cheating with Mutual Friend Before Portia de Rossi’s Rehab – Reports [PHOTOS]
- Malaysia Airlines MH17: Vital Black Boxes Finally Land in Hands of Malaysian Authorities, Rebels Announce Ceasefire (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
Join the Conversation
- MH370 Search Efforts Not Affected by MH17 Recovery; Australia Still Committed to Solving Mystery
- Another Aviation Disaster: Taiwan Plane Crashes, Passengers Aboard Feared Dead [PHOTO]
- 'Dronies' to Become Latest Trend as Tourism New Zealand Buys Drone to Record Tourists' Videos
- Former Destiny’s Child Star Farrah Franklin Arrested
- Asylum Seeker Women in Australia-Run Christmas Island Attempt Suicide in Desperation
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Apps Leak Online, Five Fresh Features to Expect from the Android Smartphone
- Moto 360 Price Speculations, Key Features, Strategic Release Date, Design: A Watch That is More Than Just Time
- Windows Phone 8.1 Update Rollout: 20 Nokia Lumia Phones Eligible and 13 New Features to be Added
- Three New Moto G Successors Spotted in FCC Document Dubbed Moto G2, Moto M and More --Reports
- iPad Air 2 Release Date Will Skip IGZO Panel; To Rollout with Super-Slim iPad Mini Air
- HTC Google Nexus 8 Release Date Imminent with New Nexus 7 Deals, Two New Tablets Soon
- Upcoming iPad Mini 3 Could be 30% Thinner and Likely be Called iPad Mini Air; Apple Q3 Results Show 9% Decrease in iPad Sales