International Gemini Observatory image of 2020 CD3 (center, point source) obtained with the 8-meter Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea. The image combines three images each obtained using different filters to produce this color composite. 2020 CD3 remains stationary in the image since it was being tracked by the telescope as it appears to move relative to the background stars, which appear trailed due to the object’s motion.

Minimoon 2020 CD3 in Color

International Gemini Observatory image of 2020 CD3 (center, point source) obtained with the 8-meter Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea. The image combines three images each obtained using different filters to produce this color composite. 2020 CD3 remains stationary in the image since it was being tracked by the telescope as it appears to move relative to the background stars, which appear trailed due to the object’s motion.

Photo by: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/G. Fedorets

International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/G. Fedorets

Lowell Scientists Reveal Second Known Minimoon

By: Discovery

Through use of the Lowell Discovery Telescope, astronomers have gathered data proving that a second known minimoon of Earth exists. Let's learn more about this newly discovered asteroid!

November 24, 2020

Lowell Observatory recently announced a second known minimoon of Earth has been discovered! According to Lowell scientists, minimoons are "small asteroids temporarily captured into orbit around Earth." The first known minimoon, 2006 RH120, was discovered fourteen years ago. Data collected using the Lowell Discovery Telescope, helped to identify the newly second known minimoon, which astronomers have designated as 2020 CD3.

Minimoons are small asteroids temporarily captured into orbit around Earth. Within about a year, they are flung back into interplanetary space.

Photo by: NASA/JPL

NASA/JPL

Minimoons are small asteroids temporarily captured into orbit around Earth. Within about a year, they are flung back into interplanetary space.

2020 CD3 was identified on February 15, 2020 by Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne via the Catalina Sky Survey, which operates out of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. A global effort based on this discovery was then led by postdoctoral research fellow Grigori Fedorets of Queen's University Belfast. Across seven countries, twenty-three researchers participated in further researching the newly discovered minimoon, CD3.

Photo by: Joe Llama

Joe Llama

Together, the astronomers and scientists around the world have gathered that CD3 is about the size of a small car. At closest approach, it's about 8,100 miles from Earth and not easy to identify in the night sky. It also has a slow rotation rate of about three minutes.

Astronomers and scientists hope to discover and learn more about minimoons of Earth. And even though minimoons are thousands of miles away from our planet, they are still close enough to one day be accessible for robotic or human exploration!

Next Up

What Screaming Black Holes are Telling Us

In 2002, NASA’s orbiting X-ray observatory, the Chandra telescope, mapped out the movements of hot gas in a cluster of galaxies sitting 250 million light-years away.

The Nobel Prize Fell Into a Black Hole (and That’s a Good Thing)

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics is being awarded to scientists to have dedicated their careers to the study of black holes.

When We’ll Know if NASA’s Asteroid Impact Test was a Success

Recently NASA’s DART mission succeeded in its primary goal, which was to slam a spacecraft face-first into an asteroid. For science. The intention of the mission was to test if we could actually redirect an asteroid and send it into a different orbit. But how and when will we know if it worked?

Watch NASA's Asteroid-Crashing DART Mission Make Impact

NASA sent a spacecraft on a mission to crash into an asteroid, so how did it go?Updated 9/26/22

Want to Name a Planet? Now’s Your Chance

Read on to learn about this rare opportunity to name a distant world observed by the James Webb Telescope.

Astronomers May Have Found a Rare “Free-Floating” Black Hole

How do you see a perfectly black object in the middle of a pitch-dark night? It sounds like the start of an annoying riddle, but it’s really the question faced by astronomers when they want to search for black holes.

Watch Out! Amateur Astronomer Watches as Jupiter Gets Whacked

Jupiter is the OG best friend in the solar system. It finds all the tiny little comets and asteroids heading for the vulnerable inner planets and takes one for the team, chewing up the dangerous rocks in its thick atmosphere. It happened again just recently, and this time an amateur astronomer caught it in the act.

Six Planets are Retrograde, What Does that Mean for You?

Spoiler alert: It's an optical illusion.

Here Comes Artemis I (Rescheduled, again)

NASA's long-awaited Artemis 1 uncrewed moon mission and next generation of spacecraft has been delayed for a second time. The rocket was initially scheduled to launch on Aug. 29, 2022, at 8:33 AM ET, but was delayed due to an issue with the engine bleed. Watch Space Launch Live: Artemis-1 on Science Channel to see the moment of liftoff. (Launch Date Pending) (Updated Sept 7, 11:00AM)

What We Learn from the Lunar Surface

Sure, the Moon is cool to look at, and fun to think about it. And it literally affects us here on the Earth: without the Moon, we’d be missing half our tides, and likely our planet’s rotation wouldn’t be as stable as it is.

Related To: