Asteroid 4179 was discovered by C. Pollas on January 4, 1989, at Caussols, France. The discoverers named the asteroid after a Celtic god, Toutatis. Its eccentric, four-year orbit extends from just inside Earth's orbit to the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The plane of Toutatis' orbit is closer to the plane of Earth's orbit than any known Earth-orbit-crossing asteroid.
Using OrbitViewer, an interactive Java applet that displays the orbit of asteroids in our solar system in 3D, you can watch as Toutatis approaches Earth. The orbit of Toutatis can be played forwards or backwards like a movie. NOTE: OrbitViewer applet may take a few moments to load.
OrbitViewer applet created by Osamu Ajiki(1) (AstroArts Inc.) in 1996; modified by Ron Baalke (NASA/JPL) in 2000-2001.