Image of the Month - October 2004

Toutatis, the Movie

One of the more interesting objects of the Solar System, Minor Planet (4179) Toutatis and originally designated as 1989 AC, was discovered on January 4, 1989 by J.-L. Heudier, R. Chemin, A. Maury and C. Pollas on plates taken by with the 0.9m Schmidt Telescope at Caussols station of the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur. Based on Arecibo radar observations obtained during the 1992 and 1996 close approaches, it resembles two chunks of rock connected by a narrow neck-like structure. The rocky body's strange traits are believed to be the result of a history of violent collisions.

(4179) Toutatis
Credit & Copyright: Scott Sinclair, Automated Patrol Telescopes Australia

Scott Sinclair of Automated Patrol Telescopes Australia captured (4179) Toutatis on the night of September 29, 2004 from Rochedale, Australia, as it sped through the constellation of Telescopium. Using a 0.25m Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector and SBIG ST7E CCD camera, he captured the 4km wide asteroid as it moved at over 80" per minute. The animation covers a time span of 15 minutes, and the field of view of these images is approximately 14' x 21'.

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