Asteroid 3200 Phaethon and Geminids meteor shower

SPACE is pulling out all the showstoppers ahead of Christmas, with a meteor shower and a vast asteroid rock in store for lucky stargazers.

Wondering where the Geminids come from? Introducing their spacey mother, a vast asteroid belt that last visited earth in 1974, but is flying by later this week.

When will Asteroid 3200 Phaethon fly past Earth?

After tonight’s Geminids meteor shower, the enormous space rock Asteroid 3200 will sweep by earth on Saturday, December 16.

The three-mile wide rock won’t be back for another 76 years when it returns in 2093, so don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

How close will it come?

Phaethon will come pretty close to earth in space terms – according to NASA a “safe” 6.4million miles.

You won’t be able to see it with your bare eyes, but anyone with a four or five inch diameter, or bigger, telescope, should be able to find it.

When you do locate the asteroid, it will deceptively look like a very slow-moving star.

What’s its link to the Geminids meteor shower?

Asteroid 3200 Phaethon is the “mother of all Geminids”, according to The stream of debris running from the asteroid is what causes meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini, hence their name.

These magical Geminids appear as a streak against the sky, with around 60 to 120 to be viewed in recent years.

It’s normally comets that produce meteor showers, not asteroids – and so the vast rock is still causing bafflement among astronomers.

Original article here

About the author: Franziska Dienel