Phaethon Asteroid Will Brush ‘Quite Close’ To Our Planet In Dec

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A 3-mile (5 km) wide asteroid named 3200 Phaethon will brush past Earth just before Christmas.

The huge object is named after the Greek demi-god Phaethon, who according to legend almost destroyed Earth.

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It will brush ‘quite close’ with Earth on December 17, Russian astronomers have shown.
Experts at the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Konigsberg, Russia, have published a video that tracks the path of Phaethon.

The object, which Nasa has previously described as a ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’, will pass 6.4 million miles (10.3m km) from Earth – relatively close in space terms.

At 3 miles (5 km) wide, the asteroid is roughly half the size of Chicxulub, the rock that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Its unusual orbit will see it pass closer to the sun than any other named asteroid.
3200 Phaethon has puzzled scientists because it has features of both an asteroid and a comet.

In one of its previous close encounters with Earth, scientists spotted dust streaming from the space rock that resembles the melting ice tails seen tailing most comets.