Active: December 4-17; Maximum: December 14, 17:39hr AEDT, ZHR = 120;
V∞ = 35 km/s;
One of the finest, and probably the most reliable, of the major annual showers presently observable.
This is a splendid stream of often bright, medium-speed meteors, a rewarding event for all observers, whatever method they employ.
Start observing on the 13th, you maybe rewarded with a number of meteors.
Origin: Using data from the IRAS satellite in 1983, Simon Green and John Davies discovered asteroid 1983 TB, now called 320 Phaeton. Although this object displays no cometary activity, its orbital match with the meteors suggests its parenthood of the Geminind streams.
Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, the size of a rural hamlet, will pass within 10.3 million kilometers from Earth at 10:00hrs AEDT on December 17th, a daytime close approach for Southern Hemisphere observers. Just before closest approach, it will reach magnitude 10.7, bright enough to track in a 3-inch telescope. Phaeton will be scooting along at up 15° per day or 38″a minute — fast enough to cross the field of view like a slow-moving satellite. You need to have an excellent North viewing position, it is too low in Ballarat to see easily. The further North you are the better. We will have a go at trying to find it from the Observatory, we maybe able to see it in our “West Window”( a break in the trees to allow for objects when the ecliptic is low) on Saturday 16th December, from about 21:45hrs AEDT, although it will be only 20.6 degrees above the horizon at it’s highest altitude at 21:59hr AEDT.