3-Mile Wide Asteroid Live Stream; Footage Of Toutatis Buzzing Past Earth

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By Maria Vultaggio | December 12, 2012 12:35 PM EST

A three-mile-wide asteroid is expected to buzz past Earth Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, Fox News reported.

Armchair astronomers can observe the asteroid fly by Earth from the comfort of their home computers by clicking this link.

The near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis is expected to pass within 4.3 million miles from our planet, and will be at its closet on Wednesday morning, the website said.

It will be too far away to do any damage, researchers say, but will put on a fantastic show visible through top-notch telescopes and the live stream.

Skywatchers can thank the online Slooh Space Camera and the Virtual Telescope Project, which are both streaming live, free footage of the asteroid.

Slooh is starting the webcast of Toutatis’ journey from a telescope in the Canary Islands off of the west coast of Africa that streamed footage from 3 p.m. EST. For those who missed the first stream, a second show will begin at 10 p.m. EST with a telescope in Arizona.

"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," Astronomy Magazine columnist Bob Berman said told Fox News.

"In a second view, Toutatis itself will be tracked and held steady as a tiny pointlike object, while Earth's spin makes the background stars whiz by as streaks," Berman added. "Both methods will make the asteroid's speedy orbital motion obvious as it passes us in space."

Asteroid Toutatis was seen for the first time in 1934 and then officially discovered in 1989. It goes around the sun once every four years. 

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