Russian Astronomers Show Big Asteroid Approaching the Earth
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The astronomer community at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University used its own Astro-Model simulation environment to produce a virtual image of object 3200 Phaethon approaching the Earth, plus the expected Geminids meteor shower.

December 17, 2017 will see an interesting astronomic event in the form of object 3200 Phaethon approaching our planet. This is a fairly large asteroid nearly 5 kilometers in diameter, which will fly past the Earth within 10 million kilometers, close by space standards.

The asteroid derives its name from its unusual orbit that in perihelia brings it closer to the Sun than any other named asteroid (20 million kilometers). To compare: Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun in the Solar system, is 46 million kilometers from the Sun.

Yet another interesting detail is that object 3200 is accompanied by the Geminids meteor shower, which is at its most active on December 13-14, when as many as 100 meteors flicker in the sky and burn in the atmosphere without causing any harm. From time to time, observers will also see bright bolides. The meteor shower will be visible every year; Phaethon itself has had a number of close approaches to Earth.

"Based on the evidence, this asteroid was a bigger object before, but its many approaches to the Sun have caused it to crumble into smaller pieces that ended up forming the meteor shower. If so, the asteroid itself is the residue of a comet nucleus. This theory is corroborated by its extremely elongated orbit, which now brings it closer than Mercury to the Sun, and takes it farther away than Mars," Alexei Baigashov, head of the Astronomer Community (AC) at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University said.

Comment: There is a large body of evidence showing that Earth has suffered cyclical catastrophes in even the recent past and many could be associated with the meteor showers we witness each year. The question isn't if one will strike the planet, it is when:

The Astro-Model program was developed by the AC's startup; it was chosen over the UMNIK program (Fund to Promote Scientific Small Businesses). It is an open virtual modeling environment using gaming scenarios to familiarize users with various physical laws of outer space. The program is widely used to teach a broad range of astronomic knowledge, from basic theory to virtual experiments with self-assigned terms. The image of Phaethon's encounter with Earth is one of the more vivid experiments using the Astro-Model.

UPDATE: CBS reports NASA will be using the opportunity of the close approach:
Instead, an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon is projected to come close enough to Earth that it's been classified as "potentially hazardous" by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.

The asteroid has a diameter of about 3 miles, according to NASA, making it the third-largest "potentially hazardous" asteroid to pass by Earth.

NASA expects Phaethon to be the closest to Earth on Dec. 16, when it's projected to be more than 6.4 million miles away. That's about 27 times the average distance between Earth and the moon, which is 238,855 miles.

It will be the closest this asteroid has been to Earth since Dec. 16, 1974, when it was just over 5 million miles away, according to NASA. But humans weren't aware of its presence until later; the asteroid was first discovered in 1983.

"The 2017 apparition is the closest to Earth since the asteroid's discovery, so it may be possible for optical observers to detect new activity," NASA said. The space agency is planning radar observations and said it hopes to obtain detailed images as the object zooms by. At its closest approach, Phaethon may be visible with a small telescope in dark skies.

It's not expected to be this close to Earth again until 2093, when it's projected to pass more than 1.8 million miles away.
So if it's classified as potentially hazardous at 6.4million miles in 2017 and will be 1.8 million miles in 2093, wouldn't that make it gravely hazardous on its next fly-by?? And as noted, it was flying past earth years before, we just didn't know; what else is coming our way that we don't know about?

Also see: Seasons Greetings: Three-mile-wide Asteroid 3200 Phaethon to skim Earth just before Christmas (VIDEO)