Where is Asteroid Mississauga?

Asteroid 223950 was discovered in 2004 and was renamed Mississauga in 2009.   

Asteroid 223950 Mississauga appears as a very faint star (in the red circle).  

Asteroid 223950 Mississauga appears as a very faint star (in the red circle).

 

Here is a report on the naming of Asteroid Mississauga in the Mississauga News

On October 1  2013, Asteroid Mississauga appears above the red star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Note the planet Venus just to the right (west). Scorpius is very low in the west just after sunset. 

Today, asteroid Mississauga is 3.75 astronomical units or 562.5 million kilometres away from the Earth. It is actually closer to the Sun than the Earth today - its distance to the Sun is 3.418 astronomical units or 512.7 million kilometres. Asteroid Mississauga orbits the Sun in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and takes 5.82 Earth years to orbit the Sun once.   

Asteroid Mississauga is most likely not very big - only a few kilometres in diameter. So it could easily fit in downtown Mississauga - if it was placed at Square One, it would just fit in between Mavis and Cawthra Roads.  

How easy is it to spot? Asteroids do not reflect a lot of light - the surface of an asteroid is very "Moon-like" and reflects about as much light as asphalt. So a body 3-4 kilometres in size at a distance of half a billion kilometres is going to be very dim. Only a large telescope will show the asteroid - which appears as a faint star in photographs. How do we know that this is the asteroid? Photographs taken on subsequent days shows the 'star' moving against the background stars. 

The NASA JPL Small Body web site   shows the position of Asteroid Mississauga in the solar system on any date. It also provides up to date information on the asteroid's orbit parameters and the last time its position was checked.

Earthshine educators have developed a resource package for teachers who wish to share information about Asteroid Mississauga with their students.  It can be found on the Earthshine Education page.

The new Mississauga planetarium will be able to provide interactive, realistic views of all the objects in the solar system - planets, moons, comets and asteroids. We may even be able to visit asteroid Mississauga and see what it would be like to stand on its surface! 

The position of Asteroid Mississauga on October 1, 2013. 

Credit: Starry Night/Simulation Curriculum

Credit: Starry Night/Simulation Curriculum

Credit NASA/JPL

Credit NASA/JPL