PINE BELT (WDAM) - Keep your eyes on the sky in the coming days. One of the closest Near-Earth Objects will be visible at night. The 3200 Phaethon asteroid will be within 6.4 million miles of Earth.
Along with 3200 Phaethon will come the annual Geminid meteor shower, which is expected to be one of the best meteor showers of the year. The Geminid meteor shower peaks Wednesday night and early into Thursday morning.
Paethon was discovered on Oct. 11, 1983 by NASA's "Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS).
Phaethon is about three miles wide, making it the "third largest near-Earth asteroid classified as 'potentially hazardous' after 53319 1999 JM8 (~7 km) and 4183 Cuno (~5.6 km), according to NASA.
While 3200 Phaethon will come within 6.4 million miles of Earth on Dec. 16, 2017, it will actually be most visible on Dec. 14 due to the angle of approach.
NASA says Phaethon is predicted to reach 11th magnitude in mid-December. That's when it will be visible in small telescopes for experienced observers at sites with dark skies.
With 3200 Phaethon being so close to earth, there will certainly be a chance that you can see it late at night during its passing if you own a telescope.
Phaethon gets its name and origins from the Greek mythological son of Helios, the Sun god. In Greek mythology, Phaethon drove his father's chariot for one day, lost control of its horses, and nearly set the Earth on fire.
The asteroid will be visible Wednesday night through the Dec. 17.