Watch an asteroid move through space

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Asteroid 4179 Toutatis compilation // by Mauro Broggi
On December 11, 2012, astroimager Mauro Broggi from Cucciago, Italy, took a series of images of the asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which at the time shone at magnitude 10.9. On that date, Toutatis was in the constellation Pisces the Fish. Mauro imaged it from 10:18 p.m. until 12:39 a.m. local time. In that span, the asteroid moved 1°, or twice the apparent diameter of the Full Moon.

Mauro sent two versions of the movie he made, and I thought both were equally interesting, so here they are. The first video shows the space rock moving through a stationary star field. The second film has the asteroid immobile while the stars move behind it.

The image at right is a compilation of all two hundred and sixty 30-second images. He imaged through a 3.2-inch Sky-Watcher Pro 80ED apochromatic refractor using a Meade Deep Sky Imager III Pro monochrome CCD camera.

What a great example of a project amateur astronomers can tackle with even a small telescope. Great job, Mauro!

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