Before Christmas, humans will witness a massive wide asteroid named 3200 Phaethon that will sweep past the earth. This mysterious asteroid will approach 6.2 million miles towards the blue planet, coming within two miles around Earth 's orbit in December.
The 3200 Phaethon asteroid is a regular visitor to the planet as it pays comes by every year and a half to the planet. Phaethon weighs half the size of the asteroid which destroyed the existence of dinosaurs on the planet. It is also bringing the Geminds meteor shower, showcasing a spectacular light show on the earth.
International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center has classified 3200 Phaethon as a Hazardous Asteroid, which will come closest on December 16. This asteroid is named after the Greek demigod Phaethon, who is the son of Apollo. However, people need not panic as this asteroid is 27 times away from the distance of the moon.
The close encounter is expected to happen before the annual Geminds meteor shower, which is expected to be active between December 4 and December 16. This shower event is quite unique as this is the only meteor shower having parent asteroid and not a comet.
3200 Phaethon was first discovered on October 11, 1983, and named after the Greek mythological character because of its closeness to the sun. Experts have come up with a few theories on this asteroid. It has also been said that Phaethon was a once dead comet which had ice.
Thousand of years ago, when this asteroid collided with another object, it broke off and hence ejects meteoroids. There was another theory saying that it broke up in 2009 when experts observed that Phaethon brightened up to a factor or two. They assumed it to be the result of dust release from heating and crackling by sun's heat.
Though it is classified as an asteroid, there are few questions raised on the origins of the asteroid and on why an asteroid is causing a meteor shower, which was never heard before the discovery of 3200 Phaethon.