Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
   
Home > Encyclopedia of Science

Phaethon (minor planet 3200)





The parent body of the Geminids meteor shower and, since the parent bodies of all other meteor streams identified to date are comets, probably a defunct comet. Discovered by the Infrared Astronomy Satellite in 1983, Phaethon has one of the most extreme orbits of any minor planet, approaching the Sun much closer than Mercury ever does at perihelion and retreating into the main asteroid belt at aphelion. It is a member of the Apollo group.


diameter 5 km
semimajor axis 1.271 AU
perihelion 0.140 AU
aphelion 2.403 AU
eccentricity 0.890
inclination 22.12°


Related category

   • NOTABLE ASTEROIDS, CENTAURS, AND KUIPER BELT OBJECTS