Talk:4179 Toutatis

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This asteroid is listed on Apollo asteroid, but the article itself says it's an Alinda asteroid. Is there crossover between these groups, or is this an indication of a contradiction? Bryan 09:55, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I think it qualifies under both categories, but I'm not an expert. Perhaps you could try asking User:Desertsky (talk), he's a retired professional astronomer who discovered some asteroids. -- Curps 17:39, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

.006 AU?[edit]

Article: Toutatis makes close approaches to Earth every four years, with a minimum distance at present of just 0.006 AU. The approach on September 29, 2004 will be particularly close, at 0.0104 AU (within 4 lunar distances) from Earth, presenting a good opportunity for observation.

What does 'minimum distance at present of 0.006 AU' mean? That's just above two lunar distances; does that mean that's the closest it's ever gotten? --Golbez 21:36, Sep 28, 2004 (UTC)

I am glad that 3.99 is clarified as almost an integer.

That "minimum distance" thingy presumably means that if you consider the two orbital ellipses, they are 0.006 AU apart at their closest point. The reason it will be 0.0104 AU away on this pass is that Earth is arriving at the closest point ahead of the asteroid (or vice versa). --Doradus 02:08, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)

Near pass, September 29, 2004[edit]

The asteroid passes within four lunar distances of the Earth on September 29, 2004. The asteroid is the largest known that has ever passed this close to Earth. Are we getting more out of synch every four years (I hope). Or is this the "doomsday asteroid"? Wetman 08:02, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I think the distance of closest approach varies, but in the current orbit, it never gets closer than two moon distances. However, orbits can be perturbed. --Doradus 02:10, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
Two moon distances is okay. Any closer is too interesting. Thanks for enriching the entry for folks like me. Wetman


I find it very amusing that this asteroid would be named Toutatis... the one thing the strip character Asterix and peers fear is that "the sky would fall on their heads" — and Toutatis is a Gallic sky god! {Ανάριον} 15:46, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

1934 CT[edit]

Doesn't the designation 1934 CT mean that it was first discovered in 1934? {Ανάριον} 16:45, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Nope, it means it was first spotted in 1934 and promptly lost.
Urhixidur 20:12, 2004 Sep 30 (UTC)

Actually 1934-02-10 would be the correct discovery date even if it was lost for many years. -- Kheider (talk) 15:38, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Image positioning[edit]

Golbez's positioning of the image (upper left) was pretty good, but I have changed it again. I have put the image at the upper right, and moved the Minor Planet box down. If anyone has a better idea, go for it. --Doradus 12:58, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)

Much improved format. Those boxes are useful but ugly. Wetman 22:58, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Comments moved from article[edit]

Note: I didn't make these myself, but they sound valid and they shouldn't have been on the article page itself. Mackensen

Please clarify how the laws of gravity, the ones that let us put spaceships into orbit around planets, are chaotic and unpredictable. The equation is something simple, like Δx/r2.

Sorry, that would be something like GmM/r2 where m and M are the respective masses of the interacting gravitational objects and G is another famous constant. Where is the chaos?
(Doradus 13:48, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)) Chaos can arise from extremely simple formulae, as it does in this case. The classic example is the logistic equation, which exhibits chaotic behaviour despite its simplicity: the formula is just . Another classic example is the double pendulum, which has some things in common with three-body gravitational motion. Here are some external links if you are interested to learn more:

Thanks, Mack. I was just browsing and noticed a scientific article that began to sound "new age" and wondered how chaos theory intersected with Newtonian physics. -Dave

I was about to remove that odd comment myself and place it here, but it seems someone did it between my reading it and the person posting this. I also removed the, "but this analogy breaks down due to the somewhat unpredicable laws of gravity" comment too. Gravity isn't unpredictable. Orbits can be perturbed (and I left that in the article) but they're otherwise very predictable.--Mylon 06:43, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)-- 06:43, 1 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Ok, fair enough, I don't mind being overruled. But you guys are all thinking of the near-circular planetary orbits whose properties are dominated by the Sun's gravity, and are only slightly perturbed by other bodies; or of moon orbits that are dominated by their planets' gravity. But smaller bodies that wend their way among the planets are much less predictable over the long term.

Please don't take the term "chaotic" to be an indictment of the laws of nature. It simply refers to the fact that any error or uncertainty in a model grows exponentially with time until the model loses all predictive ability. My remarks in this vane were motivated by the fact that this asteroid's orbit is categorized as Chaotic. However, if you guys find that to be misleading, then I'm glad they were removed. --Doradus 11:24, Oct 1, 2004 (UTC)

More accurate race track sizes[edit]

If we're going to be more accurate about the racetrack sizes, they would be more like this:

To be the same length as the Indy track, Toutatis' orbit would be 1518 x 1173 m, and earth's would be 602 m. The miss distance this time would be 3.13 m, and minimum miss distance would be 1.80 m. --Doradus 12:50, Oct 2, 2004 (UTC)

Significant/Interesting Date Corrolations[edit]

If you take the number of days between the last orbital crossing of 4179 Toutatis and the next one which will occur in 2008, it amounts to 1502 or 1503 days +/- 12 hours. If you calculate the next time it will pass Earth's orbit based on that number of days alone (obviously not 100% accurate but close), you end up with a date of ~ December 21, 2012 +/- 12 hours. Two of the three most likely end dates of the "Long Count" for the Mayan calendar are December 21, 2012 and December 23, 2012 according to this website

The website I used to calculate the days between two dates is although this next one allows you to specify whether the inclusion of the end date is calculated or not

Forgive me if I made any goofs - this is my first wikipedia post. -- 01:27, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

According to Horizons on 2012-Dec-12 at 06:40 UTC Toutatis will pass 0.0463AU from the Earth. -- Kheider (talk) 02:59, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

orbital parameters[edit]

listed orbital parametrs are substantially at variance with those given by [1]. is this an error? or has the orbit been perturbed since that observation? -- (talk) 04:57, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

JPL easily trumps data from 1 APR 2001. But the differences are still minor. The exact numbers will vary due to perturbation and the epoch chosen.-- Kheider (talk) 15:49, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay, that's making sense now. thx -- (talk) 06:20, 10 November 2009 (UTC)


The article doesn't say what the composition of the asteroid is, however the surface has been studied spectrographically. "average pyroxene composition of Wo5-10 En50-35 Fs45-55."[2] these look decipherable as wollastonite 5-10%, enstatite 50-35%, ferrosilite 45-55%; and absorption band also indicates presence of olivine. -- (talk) 06:20, 10 November 2009 (UTC)


Not particularly fond of the "fear-mongering conspiracy crowd" myself, but doesn't that wording detract somewhat from the objectivity of this article? Wanted to see what others thought before changing it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:04, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Have to agree with the "fear-mongering doomsday crowd" statement... it's incredibly opinionated and detracts from an otherwise credible article. Let's lose it please. It, and the citation, make the scientific community come across as quite superior and aloof. — Preceding unsigned comment added by TomTerrahawk (talkcontribs) 14:21, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

It is interesting to note that both of you have only contributed 1 edit to Wikipedia. I have changed the wording to hopefully make it come across as less harsh. But I see no reason to completely remove a true statement from a reliable source. -- Kheider (talk) 16:34, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Given that the next close approach is on December 12, 2012, the worse promoters of doomsday crowd probably have earned that comment. What changes are you suggesting? Keep in mind that many woo-woos are predicting the end of the world as we know it around December 21, 2012. -- Kheider (talk) 13:24, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

So... are you implying Kheider that having only one edit makes my statement inferior in some way? :-) I created an account yesterday because the statement about "fear-mongering doomsday crowd" is not just biassed but quite frankly insulting to some, and so should be addressed. Wikipedia has a policy around NPV, I'm sure that you've read it, and the statement, especially the discrepancy in the links and where those links actually go to, belittles the otherwise good work that has been done on the article. The result of the statement as it stands, is to have a good article, but when the reader gets to the bottom of it, you lose all credibility from a blatant expression of near vitriolic bias! Not only that, but no serious readers will look at any other article that you've written because they'll expect the same injection of bias there as well. That would be a shame, since you've obviously done some really good work on this subject area. Just my thoughts... TomTerrahawk (talk) 03:28, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

TomTerrahawk, you seem to assume quite a bit about me for someone new to Wikipedia. Since you have no established edit history, I can not even begin to judge if your intention to remove a sourced statement is sincere. But thank you for the compliment, "you've obviously done some really good work on this subject area". *If* you can suggest a better wording to address the December 21, 2012 crowd given the December 12, 2012 close approach, I am all ears. Are you also biased against using David Morrison (astrophysicist) as a reliable source? -- Kheider (talk) 13:54, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Ahhh, the anonymity of the Internet, it’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?

Kheider... firstly, I have no intention of editing the article.

Secondly, David’s article is not ideal as a citation, since it begins in the first paragraph by talking about “the crazies”. Now, one can accept that statement, given that he was talking to a specific audience, but your article is talking to a much wider audience and is an encyclopaedic article. Also, the purpose of the citation is to validate your statement about the “doomsaying fear mongerers...” which David’s article doesn’t actually do (apart from a brief mention of “the crazies” – I only skimmed it briefly though). In fact, you’re possibly mis representing him by using it in that context. You (and he) may well hold a particular opinion (which is your right), but an encyclopaedic article is perhaps not the place for them.

Still, if you can’t find a better citation to validate your point, then it’s your call whether to use David’s article or not.

Thirdly, and most importantly, I think you have a much more important issue to ponder here Kheider... Come November/December this year, the Toutatis article will no doubt attract a large amount of attention as the asteroid approaches earth, from scientists and astronomers who will no doubt have a chuckle at what you’ve written (which I assume was your intention), from bus drivers to social workers and also from the “woo woo’s” as you have so eloquently termed them! In fact, you’ve used statements like woo-woo in reference to other articles as well. The “woo woo’s” are not likely to be impressed with “deceptive” links and insulting references, and given that anyone can edit content, they are quite likely to simply edit this article to their own agenda... and sadly you can’t stop them doing so Kheider! Take a look at the edit war behind the moon landing conspiracy article as an example. You may find yourself stuck in an edit war defending what you have written. If as you say you have over 11,000 edits to your name, a quick look at your profile and that edit war may extend to a large number of other articles that you have contributed to and which you will have to defend and monitor because a small number of people edit/hack/deface/vandalise them just for fun because they felt that you were being insulting. If the articles aren’t your own work, then other users will also suffer as a result. All of your good work to date could end up wasted if you’re not careful Kevin. I feel that the constant edit warring and defending content on wikipedia, is one of the main reasons that so many seasoned editors are leaving Wikipedia these days so we need to work with and support each other to avoid it if we can.

It’s up to you what you do with the reference really... If it was me, I would simply remove the whole statement, and the citation, because it’s the safest thing to do in a highly trafficked article. Alternatively, you could change it to something like; “As with other Near Earth Objects, a small number of people fear that the approach of Toutanis in December 2012 carries ill omen for the planet” and then find an appropriate article to use as validation. If you’re clever, you can even link to a nice bland pro Armageddon article, even an offline one, and maybe stave off any edit wars that way.

As for me, I’m going to end by diatribe and get back to my life now, but I’ll put a flag in my calendar to pull up your profile in December and see how you’re tracking... All the best, and keep up the good work, it adds great value to Wikipedia.TomTerrahawk (talk) 05:26, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

So basically you are knocking the reference without fully reading it. Some how, I am not too surprised. Load the reference and do a text search for "doom", "rumor", "The Big One", "impact winter" or even the harsher term "zealot". The "anonymity of the Internet" (as you call it) allows anyone to say anything they want. There is a big difference between a potential edit war based on semantics and outright intentional vandalism. If people did not repeatedly make-up stories on the internet about the biggest and brightest near-Earth asteroids, referenced statements to previous failed doomsday predictions of the same object would not be necessary. I think it is important that younger readers are informed that there were false claims made in 2004. Sadly, history has a tendency to repeat itself. -- Kheider (talk) 07:57, 25 March 2012 (UTC)


The past dates and months are still in future tense. (e.g. object will make another close approach on July of 2012) Shouldn't those be fixed and updated with up-to date sources? "SimonOrJ"(U/T/C) 02:35, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

A transit of the Earth across the Sun as seen from Toutatis occurred on 27 July 2012 when Toutatis was 0.66AU from Earth. The notable close approach is 2012-Dec-12, at a distance of 0.046AU. Thank you for the heads-up for a reminder/update. Give the concern some of the public has about NEOs, it is good to mention in the article that Toutatis has been under observation since May of this year. -- Kheider (talk) 04:44, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

The chinese just did a close flyby and got some wonderful hi res pics, this article should reference the public pics and

discuss the chinese contribution. It's a good article for about 2 years ago, but I have to say it totally feels outdated. --Patbahn (talk) 20:23, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Orbit diagram[edit]

It would be cool to plot the orbit in a graphic. -- Beland (talk) 23:29, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Copyright status of images of 4179 Toutatis[edit]

One of the images of the asteroid can be found on the China Daily website, but I don't really know how to read Chinese all that well and can't determine the copyright status of these images. If there is an image taken by the Chinese Space Agency that is compatible with Commons licensing terms, it would be appreciated if somebody could help dig it up. Generally China is not really paranoid about copyright issues, but it can be a minefield none the less. --Robert Horning (talk) 21:50, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

You can upload it here at English Wikipedia, under a fair use claim, while determining whether it needs to be or not. Since the Change2 images are not replaceable, we should be able to use it as fair use -- (talk) 10:43, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate the reply, but I'd like to find somebody who knows how to read Chinese and/or can determine if it may be possible to use this image with a free content license? Fair use claims are fine in extreme circumstances, but this is not really illustrating anything beyond what we already got, as there are free images which do depict this object. --Robert Horning (talk) 02:34, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Not really, since there are no direct imaging photos of identifiable landscape from anything other than Change2. Others are computer simulations, artist's impressions, and radar images. -- (talk) 05:59, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I have to agree with the anon, an actual photograph is different from noisy radar images or a computer model. It is added value. --JorisvS (talk) 17:39, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

There is nothing in the Chinese text on that particular page mentioning copyright of the image. ( (talk) 05:45, 18 February 2015 (UTC))

Classical Music[edit]

Would it be appropriate putting a link to seeing as that page mentions this asteroid? Saariaho (a composer) wrote an addition to Holst's "The Planets" about it. (talk) 18:40, 6 June 2014 (UTC) Zach


I came here after reading a chapter in Exploring Chaos, looking for information about 1989 AC. The article gave me a lot of information, for which I am grateful. However, the two alternative names are simply listed. It would be nice to have a small section explaining all three names. Other Wik. articles have etymological sections or discussions of the naming history (e.g., Pluto. (talk) 01:06, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

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