June 1, 2004


Last week, during a whirlwind tour of Auckland for a visiting German friend, we visited One Tree Hill. "So THIS is where the tree was?" - she had read about the massacre and eventual removal of the tree back in Germany when researching NZ from afar. She has a photo now. On the way out, I was reminded of Toutatis while pointing out the Auckland Observatory.

Toutatis is a regular visitor to Earth, and visits much more often than Halleys Comet. The last recorded visits of this asteroid were in 2000, 1996 and 1992. It was discovered in 1989 after it had passed by the year previous - interesting that. "sacre bleu!, did you zee zat?"

Modern mathematics suggest Toutatis will again visit Earth this year. September 29th to be exact. Not only that, but will only be 1,549,719k's away! - to simplify - its like you and I standing on a tennis court ready to play, and I throw a marble which misses your head by a centimetre (your head being Earth, or earth-like anyway).
Toutatis is several k's long and looks like "a non-convex shape dominated by two components in contact, one approximately twice as large as the other"... In other words, like a giant peanut.

Auckland Stardome Observatory (where you can meet an astronaut June 13!) are quick to point out that we have had closer visits by other rocks in space.

Remember Obelix and his rock? These guys do.
Toutatis was the protector (God) of Asterix and his compatriots, who fear nothing except that someday the sky may fall on their heads.

To skew a bit although it ties in rather nicely, considering Obelix was always playing with death by carrying that big 'ol rock around with him...
I spotted Obelix, commonly known as Porthos (Man In The Iron Mask), better known as Gérard Depardieu is cast as Obelix in "Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre", amongst a handful of other French Asterix movies. He has been doing movies since the 70's and is still in demand. He is currently starring in four different movies, all in production right now. Busy busy!

Toutatis may continue to visit us, but it is predicted to actually have a 0% chance at hitting Earth for at least the next 400 years.

Toutatis: More Info

No comments: