The big asteroid Phaeton 3200 will make a nearby approach to Earth

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Scientists first discovered it in 1983. The community tracks and models the orbits of any potentially dangerous rocks. Orbits of asteroids are changing on the timescale of hundreds or thousands of years, perhaps longer. This rock will pass 10,312,000km from the Earth. That’s about 27 times the average distance between Earth and the moon. At its closest approach, Phaethon may be visible with a small telescope in dark skies. NASA is planning radar observations and said it hopes to obtain detailed images of the object. It’s not expected to be this close to Earth again until 2093.

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Phaethon is also bringing the Geminids meteor shower, showcasing a spectacular light show on the Earth. A such thing was never heard before the discovery of 3200 Phaethon. In comparison, the asteroid that hit the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago was twice the size, or six miles across. It destroyed up to three quarters of species living on the Earth. A giant asteroid named “Apophis” will threaten the Earth twice in the future: the first time  in 2029 and the second in 2036. Scientists believe if “Apophis” will crash on the planet’s surface, the impact will be equal to 880 megatons of TNT (Hiroshima was estimated from 13 to 18 MT).

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