The asteroid 3200 Phaethon is responsible for this meteorite, which is unusual because it is usually from comets, not asteroids, with icy debris creating meteor showers. Scientists have discussed the nature of what a phython is. The near-Earth asteroid that has been closely tracked has been likened to comets, so it was called a “rocky comet”.
Phaethon was discovered in October 1983 and is named after the Greek myth about the son of Helios, the sun god, because it approaches our sun.
Phaethon orbits the Sun near any other asteroid and takes 1.4 years to complete its orbit. The asteroid warms to about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit at its closest approach to the sun, causing dusty debris to be shed.
These particles cause meteor showers when they sink into the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 22 miles per second and evaporate in the lines we call “falling stars”.
For the best viewing opportunity, drive to a location not filled with the bright city lights. If you can find an area unaffected by light pollution, meteors can be seen every two minutes from 10pm until dawn.
Meteors will be visible all over the world, but they will be more visible in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere, according to the AMS. People who live below the equator will have the best chances of seeing stars falling in the middle of the night, and even then, fewer of them will be visible compared to those in the Northern Hemisphere.
Find an open area with a wide view of the sky, and don’t forget to group it. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look up straight. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark – without looking at your phone – so meteors are easier to spot.
Total solar eclipse
People in South America will be treated until the 2020 final total solar eclipse on Monday.
During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks the sun completely except for the sun’s outer atmosphere, called a corona, to create a beautiful ring of light.
The total path of this eclipse will be visible to those from Saavedra, Chile, to Salina del Igea, Argentina. The eclipse should last a little more than two minutes for those walking down this path, weather permitting.
A partial solar eclipse will be experienced by those outside this path in southern Chile and Argentina.
This story has been updated from a story originally published in December 2019.