Phaethon s Brood
Based on its well-measured orbit,
(sounds like FAY-eh-thon)
is recognized as the source of the meteroid stream responsible for the annual
Geminid meteor shower.
Even though most meteor showers' parents are comets, 3200 Phaethon
is a known and
near-Earth asteroid with a 1.4 year orbital period.
Rocky and sun-baked, its
perihelion or closest
approach to the Sun is well within the orbit of innermost planet Mercury.
In this telescopic field of view, the asteroid's rapid motion against
faint background stars of the heroic constellation Perseus
left a short trail during the two minute total exposure time.
The parallel streaks of its meteoric children flashed much more
quickly across the scene.
The family portrait was recorded near the Geminid meteor shower's
very active peak on December 13.
That was just before 3200 Phaethon's historic December 16 closest
to planet Earth
Authors & editors:
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings,
NASA Official: Jay Norris.
A service of:
& Michigan Tech. U.
Publications with keywords: asteroid - Geminids
Publications with words: asteroid - Geminids