Earth Has a Second Moon, but Not for Long.

Joshua Collins, Staff Writer

2020 CD3
Image courtesy of Gemini North.

An asteroid, discovered by Catalina Sky Survey on February 15, has been found in our orbit, forming a second moon for our planet.

The car-sized asteroid was orbiting Earth for up to three years by the time it was brought to our attention. Due to its small size and unorthodox orbit, it was not found until now. It is also likely to be pulled back out of our orbit by the sun’s gravity by the end of March. Teddy Pruyne and Kacper Wierzchos found it using a sixty inch telescope in Tucson, Arizona. This “mini-moon” was named 2020 CD3.

While 2020 CD3 is expected to leave our orbit and be picked up by the sun, there is a low chance of it being picked up by Earth’s orbit again. If it returns, it is likely to crash into our atmosphere and burn up before it even meets the ground. That is not a concern for safety, Earth, according to NASA, pulls in an asteroid the size of a compact car once a year. While to us, it seems huge, but is actually very small in comparison to the size of the planet.

This is not the first time Earth has gained a second moon. Back in 2006, Eric Christensen discovered 2006 RH120, which orbits around the sun in a very similar pattern as Earth. This Near Earth Asteroid is predicted to be recaptured in Earth’s orbit twice in the next decade As for 2020 CD3, astronomers around the world do not have enough data to trace the full orbit of the asteroid, so it is unsure when it will be caught again.

There is also still speculation of where this moon came from. Some sources, such as The Atlantic, have reported that it could possibly be a chunk that came off of our main moon. Others wonder if it is from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

While the origins are still unknown, the fact is true: Earth currently has a second moon, one that is saying hello and goodbye quickly before our very eyes, and will likely not be the last. Though, Mr. James Diebag is teaching a new class next year for astronomy. In an email, Diebag explained that the class will be a semester long and cover such objects as 2020 CD3.