Maybe It’s a Lost Piece of the Moon, but Don’t Call It a Moon

Space is vast and lonely. It is perfectly understandable, then, that a little rock would decide to tag along with Earth and the moon on their yearly circumnavigation of the sun.

Said rock, 165 feet long, was discovered in 2016 by Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1 asteroid-hunting telescope. This eccentric entity’s Hawaiian name, (469219) Kamoʻoalewa, means “wobbling celestial object.” As it repeatedly loops around Earth, this shy body never gets closer than 9 million miles, which is 38 times farther out than the moon. It gets as distant as 25 million miles away before swinging back around for a closer encounter.

Calculations of its orbital waltz indicate that it began trailing our planet in a relatively stable manner about a century ago, and it will continue to pirouette around Earth for…

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