Cerritos College News Releases 2011

Cerritos College astronomy students observe a near-earth asteroid

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2011

Media Contact: Aya Abelon, Public Affairs; (562) 653-7878

Dr. Thad Szabo and students observing the asteroidNORWALK, Calif. - November 15, 2011 - The 26 students of Dr. Thad Szabo's Astronomy 105 class got a hands-on lesson they will never forget.

Setting up large telescopes, they observed the historic passage of an aircraft carrier-sized asteroid on November 8.

"This is the first time information about one of these asterods was made available ahead of time," said Dr. Szabo. "The class was able to set up and photograph it as it passed."

And he took full advantage of the information for his students to get the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"You can't see it with naked eye but when it shows up this big on a computer screen, you get the feel for it and how massive it is," said student Chris Rodriguez.

Asteroid photographed by Dr. Szabo and the studentsKNBC-TV was on campus to interview students and the footage aired on the evening news. Link to the footage: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Tracking-an-Asteroid/133520168

Watch the video of the flying asteroid Dr. Szabo put together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMLr22antxI

According to NASA, the last time a similarly-sized asteroid passed this close to Earth was 1976, and the next comes in 2028.


Cerritos College serves as a comprehensive community college for southeastern Los Angeles County. Communities within the college's district include Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada, Norwalk, and portions of Bell Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs and South Gate. Cerritos College offers degrees and certificates in more than 180 areas of study in nine divisions. Annually, more than 1,200 students successfully complete their course of studies, and enrollment currently averages 23,000 students. Visit Cerritos College online at http://www.cerritos.edu/.