Earth may have a new mini-moon


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Astronomers at the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) first discovered a small bright object on Feb. 15, 2020, that they have called a “mini moon.”

The astronomers reported that the small asteroid captured by Earth is 6 – 12 feet across located about 186,000 miles from Earth (closer than the moon, which is about 238,900 miles away averaged through the year).

Based on its size, scientists expect that the mini moon will be tossed out of Earth’s gravity field sometime in April, so the time to observe 2020 CD3 through a network of high-powered telescopes is limited.

Images of the mini moon from the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii, home of the Gemini Observatory/NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/G. Fedorets. (Credit: Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), University of Arizona)

Wayne Schlingman, an astronomer at The Ohio State University and OSU planetarium director, said the asteroid “just happened to pass by at the right distance to be trapped by Earth’s gravity.”

Schlingman noted, “The majority of moons in the Solar System are captured objects.” Near Earth-Objects (NEO) are routinely catalogued and their orbits are observed “to determine their probability of colliding with the Earth.”

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