Today Asteroid 3200 Phaethon Will Fly Past Earth

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

This evening, however, will see 3200 Phaethon pass closer than it has since 1972.

NASA confirmed that the 3200 Phaethon is three miles wide.

Nasa will be using the opportunity to take incredibly detailed photographs of the giant rock. Though 3200 Phaethon is technically considered a potentially hazardous asteroid (mainly due to its large size), it'll be passing by at the very safe distance of 6,407,618 miles (10,312,061 km).

"By monitoring these PHAs and updating their orbits as new observations become available, we can better predict the close-approach statistics and thus their Earth-impact threat", NASA added. 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.

"The images should be excellent for obtaining a detailed 3D model".

Asteroid will come rather too close for comfort
GETTY DANGER The asteroid will come rather too close for comfort

If you plan on sticking around until 2093, however, the hurtling chunk of space debris is expected to pass by our planet at the distance of just 1.8 million miles. In addition, the asteroid is about half the size of the asteroid that may have wiped out the dinosaurs. Its unusual orbit will see it pass closer to the sun than any other named asteroid.

The uni wrote: "Apparently, this asteroid was once a much bigger object, but its many approaches to the Sun have caused it to crumble into smaller pieces". The asteroid is also responsible for the Geminid meteor shower, which some stargazers were lucky enough to catch earlier in the week.

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The 3200 Phaethon's name was inspired by the Greek mythological son of Helios, known as Phaethon.

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. Earth was nearly destroyed in the ensuing chaos, which scorched the planet, burned vast amounts of vegetation and created the great deserts of Africa.

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