Fr.: 3200 Phaéton
An → Apollo asteroid with unusual properties. Phaethon was discovered on October 11, 1983 using the → Infrared Astronomical Satellite. It is dynamically associated with the → Geminid meteor shower. Whereas most established → meteor shower parents are clearly → cometary in nature, the orbit of Phaethon is that of an → asteroid . Its → semi-major axis, → eccentricity, and → orbital inclination are a = 1.271 AU, e = 0.890, and i = 22.2, respectively, and the → Tisserand parameter with respect to → Jupiter is TJ = 4.5 (while the conventional → comets have TJ < 3). The → perihelion distance is remarkably small, q = 0.14 AU. Phaethon is roughly 5 km in diameter. Not to be confounded with → Phaeton.
Named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, son of the Sun god Helios, due to its close approach to our Sun.