Asteroid 2012 TC4 to Buzz Earth on October 12

by Nancy Atkinson on October 11, 2012

Asteroid 2012 TC4 as seen by the Remanzacco Observatory team of Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, Nick Howes on Oct. 9, 2012.

Asteroid 2012 TC4 will give Earth a relatively close shave on October 12, 2012, passing at just a quarter of the distance to the orbit of the Moon. Discovered by Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii just last week on October 4, 2012, and it will pass by at about 88,000 kilometers (59,000 miles) away. Estimates on the size of this space rock vary from 17 to 30 meters, but NASA has indicated they will have telescopes trained on the asteroid as it makes its near Earth flyby — closest approach is just before 06:00 UTC (2:00 a.m. EDT) on Friday. Radar measurements can provide more details on the asteroid’s size and orbital characteristics.

NASA’s Asteroid Watch has assured there is no chance this asteroid will hit Earth.

The Slooh Space Camera is providing live coverage RIGHT NOW (at the time of this posting) on Thursday, October 11th, live on Slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 2:30 p.m. PDT / 5:30 p.m. EDT / 21:30 UTC — accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh President, Patrick Paolucci; Slooh Outreach Coordinator, Paul Cox; and Astronomy Magazine columnist, Bob Berman.

Viewers are in for a special treat as asteroid TC4 will be in the same field of view as the planet Neptune during Slooh’s live coverage.

According Astro Bob, at around the time of closest approach, 2012 TC4 will be sailing through the stars of Sagittarius at approximately one degree (two full moon diameters) every 5 minutes.

This asteroid will reach the magnitude 13.7 on October 12 around 02:00 UTC, according to the Remanzacco Observatory team of Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, Nick Howes.

You can see an animation of Remanzacco’s observations here.

A view of the orbital parameters of asteroid 2012 TC4 from JPL.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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