If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines as of late, then you might’ve caught wind about the Earth having a second moon. But before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that there are quite a few asterisks involved.
The so-called ‘second moon’ isn’t even slightly comparable to the actual Moon most of us already know and love. In fact, the object is nothing more than an asteroid measuring two-to-four meters across that was captured by Earth’s gravitational pull. Moreover, the object is so dark that it resembles a wet asphalt road; this makes spotting it in the night sky virtually impossible with the unaided eye.
The object’s actual name is 2020 CD3, and astronomers approximate that the object may have been captured by the Earth’s gravity as recently as 2017. Unfortunately, the object won’t be around long. Its irregular orbit around our planet means that it will eventually build up enough speed to break free of Earth’s gravity, and astronomers think this could happen as soon as April 2020.
It wouldn’t be the first time that an object like 2020 CD3 has been captured by Earth’s gravity, and it won’t be the last. There are literally countless space rocks residing in our solar system, and every object’s orbital trajectory is always changing based on the gravitational influencers around it.
At some point, another object will find its way close enough to Earth to be snatched out of its natural orbit, and a similar situation will transpire. But when will that happen? We’ll just have to wait to find out…