Our Astronomy club Toutatis visited Morocco and the Sahara desert. We wanted to celebrate our 2 years anniversary of the club in a warm place, where we could have great skies.
As you may have noticed, our club is named after the Asteroid 4179 Toutatis ( Read On the search for asteroid Toutatis and the origin of our astronomy club's name).
We wanted to catch the asteroid for ourselves and see first hand what kind of object the asteroid was. It was very exciting to search for 4179 Toutatis.
We had at our disposition a 400mm Meade telescope GOTO and the coordinates for the asteroid. But never the less, when we entered the coordinates and centered the asteroid in the eyepiece, we only saw light dots and it was very hard to tell what was a star and what was the asteroid (fast moving object). We then set the camera as the eyepiece and took short (30 sec. to 2 minutes) exposure to see if something would stick out as a longer "line". Believe me, at first there was nothing different on the camera screen. As we checked and rechecked the coordinates of the asteroid, we took an other series of short exposures to see if we got it this time.
|Asteroid 4179 Toutatis reveals itself|
You can see on the animation on the upper left, the asteroid is tumbling through space. We have in this animation 60 frames with an exposure of 30 seconds each for a total of 30 minutes of tumbling asteroid. If you look closely the "lines" should be of equal lengths, but you notice that they are not. This is due to the rotating asteroid in it's path. Very exciting!
Asteroid 4179 Toutatis is by far the most challenging and the most rewarding object that I found in the night sky. Even with the coordinates, a good telescope and support while looking for it, it was still very exciting to search for Asteroid 4179 Toutatis.
Thanks to every one present during the session, here we have it: Asteroid 4179 Toutatis ladies and gentelman! Wouhhouu! :D
Please visit wikipedia Asteroid 4179 Toutatis HERE
Please see article on close up gif animation of rotating asteroid 4179 Toutatis HERE
Please read article and see photos of asteroid Toutatis by Nancy Atkinson on Universe Today HERE
Read 4/7 posts on club's astronomy trip to Morocco. HERE
About Astronomy Club Toutatis article