SURPRISED: Earth has had a “second moon” for a long time

It turns out that our moon isn’t alone out there, orbiting our planet on its own. Earth has a companion in space which has been orbiting our world for over a century, and NASA has only recently spotted it.

1 is the loneliest number, particularly when you are a single moon orbiting a planet that is full of humans. But let’s not be hopeless here because NASA just declared that there might be a second moon =to keep you company. This recently discovered moon is smaller than our moon and orbits the Earth surprisingly irregularly, but still, two is way better than one. This second “moon,” is, in fact, an asteroid called 2016 HO3 and it is currently sealed into “a little dance” with Earth. It’s being called as “Quasi-Moon“.

This new moon has been dancing around the Earth for over a century now. Its orbit is very elliptical, disturbing it to go a wee bit off tangent—between 38 and 100 times the total distance of Earth’s primary moon—and bob up and down across Earth’s orbital plane. This new moon is tilted by about an angle 8° and it orbits the Sun for 365.93 days, which is slightly longer than Earth’s 365.24 day-long years.

NASA said: “Since 2016 HO3 rotates around our planet, but never courses very far away as we both revolve around the same sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth.”

Since it’s tilted and has an elliptical orbit, sometimes it is pretty close to the Sun and moving slightly faster than the Earth. While it is a little farther out and moving a little bit more slowly, however, it never comes any closer than about 14 million kilometers from Planet Earth or farther than about 40 million kilometers.

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