Our planet has a second moon. A team of astronomers discovered the astronomical object, and we have all the information about it. The Earth’s second moon is smaller than our primary natural satellite, and it’s called a minimoon.
The discovery of the minimoon
The moon has been in our planet’s orbit since about three years ago but was just seen with the help of a ground-based telescope. However, this tiny moon is not very similar to our moon.
The first glimpse of the new moon was seen by astronomers Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne on February 15. The moon showed up on their telescope display as an unusual spot of light. Both astronomers are Catalina Sky Survey employes.
Minimoon or Asteroid
The newly discovered astronomical object is dubbed 2020 CD3. This so-called minimoon could be just a small mass asteroid rich in carbon, which makes it a type C. The object is not that big, having between 1.9 meters and 3.5 meters in diameter. Picture it as a big wardrobe orbiting the Earth.
“BIG NEWS (thread 1/3). Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible minimoon called 2020 CD3. On the night of February 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object. Here are the discovery images,” posted Kacper Wierzchos on Twitter alongside a video.
2020 CD3 confirmation
The so-called tiny moon was confirmed as a temporarily captured object (TCA) by Minor Planet Center (MPC), a branch of International Astronomical Union. The confirmation came after a long period since its first glimpse in space, on February 25 to be more specific.
“Orbit integrations indicate that this object is temporarily bound to the Earth,” said MPC, but “further observations and dynamical studies are strongly encouraged.”
This is the second minimoon that our planet encountered. The first one is called 2006 RH120, and it was discovered by the same team back in 2006.
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