IKBFU’s astronomers model trajectory of asteroid moving towards Earth

3 December 2017
The IKBFU’s Astronomical Community has produced virtual images of the 3200 Phaethon asteroid approaching Earth and of the Gemenids meteor shower. The scientists used the locally developed Astro-Model modelling environment.

This year, on December 17, the 2300 Phaethon asteroid will approach our planet. Five kilometres in diameter, the large object will pass 10 million kilometres from Earth, which is rather close on the space scale.

The asteroid owes its name to its unusual orbit that makes the asteroid approach the Sun at a record 20 million km. For comparison, Mercury – the closest planet to the Sun – is 46 kilometres away from the star at the closest point. Another interesting fact is that the asteroid is accompanied by the Gemenids meteor shower. The peak of the Gemenids occurs on December 13-14 when as many as one hundred meteors flicker in the sky and burn out. Sometimes, bright bolides appear. The meteor shower can be observed each year.

 Aleksey Baigashov, Head of the IKBFU’s Astronomical Community
‘Apparently, the asteroid was once a large object but, having approached the Sun again and again, it fell into numerous smaller pieces, which formed the meteor shower.’

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