Falling Star Caught At Impact

December 18, 2001


Provided by: Thad V'Soske
Summary authors & editors: Thad V'Soske

As the Earth orbits the Sun. it regularly intersects the trail of debris left in the path of a comet or asteroid. This debris can often be seen as fiery meteors blazing through Earth's protective atmosphere. This Geminid meteor, photographed on 12/13/2001, shows the final moments of a piece of the object called '3200 Phaethon'. On this time lapse photograph, the horizontal streaks are stars and the elongated, near-vertical streak is the tiny piece of 3200 Phaethon. With the appearance of an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon may actually be an extinct comet.

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