An asteroid called 3200 Phaethon will skim past the Earth just days before many will celebrate with Christmas festivities. The three-mile-wide asteroid is expected to miss the Earth, but it’s still labeled as “potentially hazardous,” and for good reasons.
With a diameter of about 3 miles, the asteroid named 3200 Phaethon (after the Greek demi-god who, according to legend, nearly set the Earth on fire) is classified as “potentially hazardous” by the Minor Planet Center. The asteroid will pass within 6.5 million miles of the Earth, which is relatively close in space terms, but still around 27 times the distance of the moon. Much closer flybys have occurred in the very recent past.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are planning to use the opportunity to obtain a detailed 3D model of the asteroid, which has a particularly irregular shape. First detected in December 2007, 3200 Phaethon is widely thought to be the parent body for the Geminid meteor shower, which is due to peak this year on the night of December 13. This would make the Geminids one of only two major meteor showers not originating from a comet; the other being the Quadrantids in January.
The main difference between asteroids and comets is their composition. Asteroids are made up of metals and rocky material, while comets are made up of ice, dust and rocky material. Comets which approach the Sun lose material with each orbit because some of their ice melts and vaporizes to form a tail.
But the real question is will anyone be able to see the asteroid’s close approach to our planet. According to NASA, 3200 Phaethon will be visible in small telescopes for experienced observers in areas with dark skies. It is potentially detectable for three weeks but will be at its brightest between December 11 and 21. If you don’t see the asteroid itself, be sure to look out for the Geminid meteor shower, which is set to provide a spectacular show over the course of 10 nights in December, with as many as 100 shooting stars every hour.
I had an asteroid once. Thankfully, adding more roughage and vegetables seemed to take care of it.
Was it on Uranus?
C’mon 3200 Phaeton, just nick us – right around the west coast; or maybe a big ol’ smack somewhere in the Persian Gulf.
i hope the liberals catch a ride on that asteroid and zip away.
Haha good one!
If it is the ‘parent body’ then it might lose a lot of particles, even larger debris as it scoots by..we will have to wait and see. Telescope at the ready…
If folks are gonna talk about “possible hazard”, why isn’t there any mention of this possible hazard? Checkout-line tabloid silliness, so far…
“The asteroid will pass within 6.5 million miles of the Earth, but still around 27 times the distance of the moon.”
Which means this hysteria-inducing story is another useless piece of nonsense.
Hey, guess what? Uranus rotates around the sun! How about an article on how that is a terrible threat?
There is NO prepping for an asteroid strike. And it’s half a million to one odds of one any time soon.
So take those odds and fergeddaboudit.
Uranus is close to the Sun? Better not fart!
shopping.google -> price: low to high -> “meteorite”
How can you say that one never lands, if they’re under $5.
Even after all these years, I still thought it was pretty cool, to see one light a field on fire, in my early youth.
I find money and rocks and animals etc, for no other reason than staying curious. I know what is normal, and how it is said, in polite company. They never see what is right under their noses.