Photo Credit Earth co-orbital Asteroid 3753 Cruithne. Credit: Sonia Keys
Cruithne (CREW-een-ya) is an asteroid (NEO) with a strange orbit. When viewed from an Earth frame of reference (Stationary Earth). It portrays a series of bean shapes. Over the course of 770 years the series completes a horseshoe-shaped movement, with the Earth in the gap of the horseshoe. It approaches the Earth from one direction, then it moves away and makes more bean shapes as it moves around the Sun, until it approaches Earth from the other side, and then moves away again. Studying the animation will show you that Cruithne never really goes around Earth. At times the orbit brings Cruithne underneath the south pole of the Earth (40 times farther away than the Moon), and at other times it can be seen on the other side of the Sun.
Published on Feb 18, 2014
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