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 Post subject: (3200) Phaethon Observed
PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:17 pm 
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Location: Maple Shade, NJ
I finally got out for a look at (3200) Phaethon this morning, 13-December-2017. I went to Swede Run in Moorestown, NJ, a Green Acres site that's in thinning suburbia and is darker than my home, plus there are no street lights on the road going through it for +/- a third of a mile. However, it's certainly not as dark as the Pines. Conditions were somewhat inhospitable -- the temperature was in the low 20's °F range with strong wind.

Anyway, using my 85 mm spotting scope at 27x, I quickly found the field in Perseus (about 7° SE of Mirfak) after setting up the scope at 2:30 am EST. My SkyTools finder chart didn't show enough detail to pinpoint Phaethon directly, but looking in the general area, I found a likely candidate at 2:40 am. However, I had to wait for some distinct movement to be sure. At 2:50 am, my candidate had moved noticeably relative to nearby 11th magnitude field stars, confirming that it was indeed Phaethon (magnitude 10.8 at the time).

At the time of observation, Phaethon was moving about 20 arc seconds per minute of time, and by this coming weekend, will be almost double that. However, it's nowhere near the fastest near-earth asteroid I've seen. That was (308635) 2005 YU55, which at one point on the evening of 08-November-2011, was moving over 500"/minute (more than 8°/hour). The movement of 2005 YU55 that night was apparent in real time through the scope.

By 2:50 am, the crescent moon was visible at the distant tree line to the east (it rose at 2:37 am). I also saw a couple of Geminids during the 45 minutes I was there. A faint one was seen in my 15x56 binoculars while checking the Phaethon field between 2:15 and 2:30 am, and a dim one was seen to the east with unaided eyes between 2:40 and 2:50 am.

Joe

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:57 pm 
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I failed to note that S&T's Bob King has a nice online article about observing (3200) Phaethon, which will pass closest to earth tomorrow, Saturday, December 16.

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/3200-phaethon/

The current Clear Sky Chart shows clearing on Friday night continuing through Saturday into Sunday, so there's still a chance to catch it at its maximum rate of apparent motion (more than 38 arc seconds per minute on Saturday night). On Friday night, Phaethon will be a couple of degrees from Mirach (Beta And) and on Saturday, it will be about 4 degrees from Alpheratz (Alpha And) at the NE corner of the Great Square.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:54 pm 
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3200 Phaethon: Arecibo Back at Work

https://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=39078

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The(se) images of 3200 Phaethon are the best we’ve yet taken, showing a spheroidal object with a large concave depression near its equator and a dark circular feature near one of its poles. The resolution in these images is about 75 meters per pixel.

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