Phaethon is a mid-sized asteroid whose orbit crosses the orbit of Earth. NASA JPL has classified Phaethon as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid" due to its predicted close pass(es) with Earth.
Phaethon orbits the sun every 524 days (1.43 years), coming as close as 0.14 AU and reaching as far as 2.40 AU from the sun. Its orbit is highly elliptical. Phaethon is about 6.3 kilometers in diameter, making it larger than 99% of asteroids, comparable in size to the San Francisco Bay.
The rotation of Phaethon has been observed. It completes a rotation on its axis every 3.60 hours.
Phaethon's orbit is 0.02 AU from Earth's orbit at its closest point. This means that there is a wide berth between this asteroid and Earth at all times.
Phaethon has 9 close approaches predicted in the coming decades:
|Date||Distance from Earth (km)||Velocity (km/s)|
|Dec. 11, 2050||12,353,215||36.236|
|Dec. 18, 2060||16,624,021||30.648|
|Dec. 14, 2093||2,965,491||34.235|
|Dec. 22, 2103||25,661,359||29.015|
|Dec. 13, 2136||8,237,421||35.401|
|Dec. 19, 2146||13,502,098||31.170|
|Dec. 9, 2179||28,507,605||39.646|
|Dec. 15, 2189||5,308,400||34.795|
|Dec. 20, 2199||14,196,173||31.016|
Phaethon's orbit is determined by observations dating back to Oct. 27, 1983. It was last officially observed on Oct. 22, 2021. The IAU Minor Planet Center records 5,090 observations used to determine its orbit.
Scientists have been able to determine this object's shape:
View asteroid Phaethon in 3D.
The position of Phaethon is indicated by a ◯ pink circle. Note that the object may not be in your current field of view. Use the controls below to adjust position, location, and time.
The above comparison is an artistic rendering that uses available data on the diameter of Phaethon to create an approximate landscape rendering with Mount Everest in the background. This approximation is built for full-resolution desktop browsers. Shape, color, and texture of asteroid are imagined.