Asteroid 3200 Phaethon - 0.07 AU from Earth 2017 DEC 16

Curt Renz

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#1
Chicken Littles may dub this the Doomsday Planet X. Actually there is no need to worry for now. ;)

Asteroid 3200 Phaethon is expected to pass only 0.0689 AU (10.3 million km – 6.4 million miles) from Earth on 2017 DEC 16 at 17 hr CST (23 hr UT). This should be preceded by maximum brilliance at magnitude +10.7 on DEC 14, which will require a telescope to be seen.

Phaethon is about 5 km in diameter. Its highly elliptical orbit and material composition suggest it may have started life as a comet. Debris from Phaethon is thought to be the source of the annual Geminid Meteor Shower, which is expected to peak this year during the night of DEC 13-14.

I’ve created two charts and an ephemeris. Due to the format I’ve placed them on my Comets webpage: http://www.CurtRenz.com/comets.html

Photos and descriptions of Phaethon would be welcome additions to this thread.