"Potentially Hazardous" Asteroid 3200 Phaethon Back Again, But Don't Worry

"Potentially Hazardous" Asteroid 3200 Phaethon Back Again, But Don't Worry

It is classified as potentially hazardous. While this is no big deal, as 3200 Phaethon swings by our neck of the solar system every 1.4 years, the rock's trajectory will have it come 6.2 million miles to our planet.

On Dec. 16, a three-mile-wide asteroid called 3200 Phaethon will make its closest pass of Earth in at least 45 years, coming with 6.4 million miles of our planet, according to NASA estimates.

The three-mile wide 3200 Phaethon's closest approach to Earth will take place December 16 at 6 p.m. EST.

It has been classed as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, although this does not mean that there is a threat of an impact in the foreseeable future. After all, 6.2 million miles isn't a lot in space terms.

Okay, it's not armageddon, but a large-ish asteroid will blast reasonably close to the Earth on December 16, and we can thank NASA and global space observatories for making the event a comfortable spectator sport. Even if you have really good vision, the asteroid will be too dim to be seen by the naked eye.

It can also be viewable on live stream by heading to virtualtelescope.eu.

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Today's approach will be the closest it has come to Earth since 1974, with the asteroid expected to come nearest to our planet at 23:00 GMT. Phaethon's inexperience proved to be problematic as he managed to lose control of the horses pulling the chariot and veered out, setting the Earth ablaze. In addition, the asteroid is about half the size of the asteroid that may have wiped out the dinosaurs.

Phaethon was first discovered in 1983, taking its name from the Greek mythological figure that nearly burned the Earth when he drove his flaming chariot too close to the planet. Its unusual orbit will see it pass closer to the sun than any other named asteroid.

However, 3200 Phaethon is an asteroid, not a comet.

The Greminid shower has been attributed to 3200 Phaethon, which has some at NASA wondering if Phaethon is an asteroid, a dead comet, or something in between.

To prove his divine powers, Phaethon made a decision to have a go, but he lost control of the chariot and ended up dragging the hot sun with him.

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