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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Asteroid Comes Closest to Earth Since 14th Century

Asteroid 4179, Toutatis, came within approximately 1.5 million kilometers or 961,000 miles of Earth at 9:35 a.m. Eastern Time, Wednesday, September 29, 2004. A very close distance in astronomy terms. Something like four times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

The asteroid is named after an obscure Celtic and Gallic god, Toutatis. It is a yam-shaped space rock that measures 1.92 kilometers (1.2 miles) by 2.29 kilometers (1.4 miles) by 4.6 kilometers (2.9 miles).

Toutatis will not be this close again until 2562. The year 1353 A.D. is when Toutatis last got as close to the Earth as it did today. It was discovered in 1989.

Had Toutatis hit the Earth, it would have had the explosive impact of a one million megaton bomb, many times the total nuclear arsenal of the superpowers, and would have destroyed a majority of the life on the planet.

Large Asteroid Will Zoom Safely Past Earth [ScienceDaily.com]
Near-miss asteroid could have wiped out Greater London area [Independent.co.uk]
Asteroid Comes Closest to Earth Since 12th Century, NASA Says [Bloomberg]
ESO Views of Earth-Approaching Asteroid Toutatis [Inovations-Report]

related:
Asteroid (1997 XF11) Will Miss Earth By "Comfortable Distance" In 2028, NASA Predicts [ScienceDaily.com]

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