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Earth temporarily has a second (mini) moon

2020 CD3 (not pictured) is probably a C-class asteroid. Credit: Piqsels

Planet Earth has temporarily caught a second (mini) moon, officially called ‘2020 CD3’, in its gravity.

During the night of 15 February, astronomers Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne, of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey project, stumbled upon an object with a diameter of between 1.90 and 3.50 metres orbiting our planet.

On 25 February, the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union announced the discovery of the mini Moon, which is most likely an asteroid that ended up in orbit around the Earth, making it a natural satellite or a moon.

2020 CD3 is about the size of a car, and is positioned a lot further from our planet than our first moon. It takes about 47 days to orbit around the earth, and is not visible to the naked eye.

It is only the second time that astronomers have discovered a new moon around the Earth. 14 years ago, 2006 RH120 circled the earth for several months before being ejected, which will also happen to this moon.

Elon Musk, who launched a Tesla Roadster into space in February 2018 that is still orbiting the sun, replied to a tweet about the car-sized moon that it was not his.

2020 CD3 is probably a C-class asteroid, which are carbonaceous, dark asteroids that make up 75% of all known asteroids.

The mini moon is expected to return to orbit around the sun in April.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times