Why two days early? Because if I waited until Friday, you’d miss this:
The near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) wide, will zoom within 4.3 million miles (7 million kilometers) of Earth during its closest approach early Wednesday morning (Dec. 12). That’s too far away to pose any impact threat on this pass, but close enough to put on a pretty good show through top-notch telescopes, researchers say.
The first two opportunities to view 4179 Toutatis courtesy of the online Slooh Space Camera and Virtual Telescope Project happened yesterday, so yeah, it’s kind of late for that. However, you can still catch the free webcast from the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy at at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) on Thursday, December 13.
While we’re talking news, I might as well share a few of the other stories I’ve got queued up for Friday.
Remember that meteorite that killed off the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago? For a long time, paleontologists had thought that the smaller snakes and lizards were mostly spared. Turns out not so much.
Sylvia Poggioli of NPR reports:
“Anyone who has visited Rome and its antique monuments has also seen their four-legged residents: the many stray cats that bask in the sun amid the ruins.
One site in central Rome is known as “cat forum,” thanks to its adjacent cat shelter. But Italian archaeology officials have issued the Torre Argentina Cat Shelter Association an eviction notice, and feline lovers from around the world are bracing for a cat fight.”
Apparently the cats themselves are not being evicted, just the people who feed them, spay/neuter them, and care for sick among them. Considering the informal cat shelter has been in operation since the 1950s, you have to wonder why city officials would begin eviction proceedings now. Was it all the pots of pasta?
Yellowstone’s most famous wolf, alpha female 832F of the Lamar Canyon pack was shot and killed last Thursday. According to Dan Stahler, Wildlife Biologist for the National Park Service’s Yellowstone Wolf Project, who was interviewed on NPR’s Here and Now this week, the loss is a huge blow to the pack, as 832F was both a very successful hunter and a great mother. The alpha male, the only adult male left in the pack, is the father to most (if not all) of remaining pack members and wolves avoid interbreeding. Researchers are waiting to see whether the pack splinters apart or recruits new members to keep viable.
My goodness, is it 11 o’clock already? Time to get on with my day (yours too, I expect). Happy Wednesday!
- Asteroid 4179 Toutatis Live Streams (timehuman.blogspot.com)
- 3-mile-wide Asteroid – Dubbed 4179 Toutatis – Missed Earth on Tuesday by 4.3 Million Miles (americanlivewire.com)
- Giant asteroid to pass Earth: How to watch the flyby (mnn.com)