Most of us assume the Earth has just one moon. However, as of right now, the Earth has two moons. While the classification of the object known as 2020 CD3 as a moon is somewhat questionable, it is only the size of a car after all, and it will not be here for long; the little rock has fallen into a “chaotic orbit” and can technically be considered a moon. Sadly, the little moon is too small to be seen with the naked eye, or even with amateur telescopes. The object was spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey, a NASA team based in Arizona. Kacper Wierzchos, a member of the team, released a computer model of the miniature moon’s chaotic orbit.
This new moon is not actually “new” at all. Researchers around the world have come to the conclusion that the object actually entered orbit around the Earth in 2017 and has been circling the planet in secret ever since. The tiny rock is just so small that it was difficult to detect. In fact, researchers at first mistook the object for a simple piece of space junk. There are still some skeptics who believe that the “moon” is actually a booster or other part ejected from a successful rocket launch during exit from the Earth’s atmosphere and until astronomers have the opportunity to target the object with instruments powerful enough to assess what it is made out of, we have no way of knowing if it is a real moon or not.
Regardless, our new moon will not be here for long. Researchers are only catching it at the very end of its three year tenure in orbit. The moon will lose its connection to the Earth and descend into orbit around the sun very soon, perhaps as early as next week. Until then, we all have the rare opportunity to say a brief hello and goodbye to Earth’s short-lived second moon.