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Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Earth's "Second Moon"

(For politics, please scroll down)

From Smithsonian.com (March 3, 2015):


Excerpt from the article:
Bet You Didn’t Know About the Earth’s "Second Moon": Even astronomers didn’t realize it was following the Earth until 1997

The Moon isn’t alone in the sky. Sure, we’ve launched hundreds of man-made objects into the space around Earth, but even before we got there, Earth and the Moon had a little companion. This tiny, rocky world is named 3753 Cruithne, which comes from Old Irish and refers to the early Irish people and their king, Cruidne. You can forgive your parents and your grade-school teachers for not mentioning it though: The object was only discovered in 1986 and its orbit mapped in 1997.

Cruithne is technically not a moon but a quasi-orbital satellite of Earth. Duncan Forgan, a researcher at the University of St Andrews, in Fife, Scotland, explains....
Read the rest HERE.

16 comments:

  1. Interesting, of course, but is it potentially useful to us other than to make us aware that "The more we know, the more we realize there is much more yet to be discovered?"

    I knew right away it was wrong to call Cruithne a "moon." Obviously, it's an ASTEROID of some kind. If it were a "moon" following an oval or circular orbit, we would be able to see it in the night sky, wouldn't we?

    I'm surprised the existence of Cruithne (How are we supposed to PRONOUNCE that?) has been known since 1986, and this is the first I've heard of it.

    It looks to me as though Cruithne might collide with the moon somewhere along the line. The video charting its travel pattern (I won't call it an "orbit.") seem to indicate such a collision -- or doesn't it?

    Do we know its diameter in miles, yards, feet and inches? Obviously i's bigger than a breadbox, but is it as large as -- or larger -- than Rhode Island?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FT,
      The change in Smithsonian Magazine finally led me to cancel my subscription. The new version of the magazine is no longer worth the money I was paying.

      The change occurred when the S. Dillon Ripley "era" ended. Secretary of the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley was a very learned man. I can't say the same about some of the other secretaries.

      Anyway, the magazine now caters to the popular culture. You already know my overall views on that topic.

      Delete
    2. 'If it were a "moon" following an oval or circular orbit, we would be able to see it in the night sky, wouldn't we?'

      I think only one of Mars' two moons is visible with the naked eye from the Martian surface: obviously it depends more on the size and distance of the moon than the shape of its orbit. Cruithne is about 3 miles wide (so ... hang on, let me find a map of Rhode Island ... smaller than Rhode Island) and never gets anywhere near as close as the Moon, so it's not something you'd expect to view without equipment.

      I have heard Cruithne pronounced "croo-ith-nee." I believe it's a name from ancient Celtic mythology or history.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Jez. "Croo-ith-knee" would have been my guess, but it's always better to be sure. How good that you travel in circles where such bits of recondite lore may be mentioned out loud! ;-)

      I have long believed publications purporting to have a serious purpose ought to include a pronunciation guide to each possibly puzzling word in the body of the text.

      An asteroid three miles in diameter might have a devastating effect if it landed in my neighborhood (or yours!), but in the vast reaches of outer space it's probably less significant than a speck of dust would be on my bureau.

      Delete
    4. True, but objects of study are chosen not always because they are themselves significant, but to learn significant things from them.

      Delete
    5. re pronunciation: discussion below rings a bell, I now remember that we found out that it was pronounced differently to how we were saying it. Sadly I can't recall the correct version, only the error and the fact that it is an error. Well done, brain.

      Delete
    6. Jez,
      Isn't it an Irish word?

      What is the Irish phonetic system?

      Delete
    7. Yes, old Irish. I don't know what it sounds like, I guess something like welsh?

      Delete
    8. In that case, there is probably there is no good phonetic equivalent.

      Delete
  2. THE LAST PARAGRAPH in the ARTICLE

    "It's not that everything once thought about our solar system was wrong, it’s that researchers are constantly new learning things. They suspect that Cruithne and other objects like it can tell us about the changing nature of the solar system and formation of planets. And at the very least, new information keeps things fun."

    I most strenuously object to the careless, ultra casual style in which most of the article was written -- especially this final paragraph.

    I, personally, would have preferred to see it written as follows -- more or less.

    None of this information should be taken as an implication that our long established model of the solar system is wrong, but only that Science is constantly working to enhance and increase our body of knowledge. Researchers hope that studying Cruithne may enlarge our understanding of the solar system's origins, and how it constantly evolves. At the very least such research should pique curiosity and help sustain interest in matters of possible cosmic significance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FT,
      The ultra casual style has now become the norm.

      Not that I like that style any better than you do!

      Delete
    2. I thought you were answering this objection to the abysmal style in which this piece is written when you said above:

      "The change in Smithsonian Magazine finally led me to cancel my subscription. The new version of the magazine is no longer worth the money I was paying.

      The change occurred when the S. Dillon Ripley "era" ended. Secretary of the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley was a very learned man. I can't say the same about some of the other secretaries.

      Anyway, the magazine now caters to the popular culture ...


      What I think of that requires the use of classic four-letter words that you don't want to see at your blog. Suffice it to say that i see these changes as tragic –– a very bad omen for the future.

      Delete
    3. FT,
      It's not only the style which has deteriorated but also some of the details in content.

      The possibility for an excellent presentation of fascinating information still exists, but even once-respected magazines such as Smithsonian have devolved.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, but that's as clear as mud. Sounds sort of like a mush-mouthed version of KRINYA, but not quite.

      I am at WAR with non-phonetic transliterations of strange tongues. We've already been around that mulberry bush several times.

      Delete
    2. FT,
      I'm glad that you found it as garbled as I did! I was wondering if it was just my ears with a problem.

      In looking around some more, I found THIS, which isn't an audio file, but is more informative, IMO.

      Delete

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