Credit By: Virtual Telescope Project
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently announced the official name for the first ‘quasi moon’ in our solar system orbiting Venus, and it’s quite an unusual one – Zoozve. This designation marks an intriguing milestone in celestial nomenclature and has an amusing backstory.
What is a Quasi Moon?
Before diving into Zoozve’s story, let’s understand a quasi-moon. Unlike natural moons that orbit planets, quasi-moons are asteroids that traverse alongside larger celestial bodies like planets while orbiting the Sun. Earth itself has a quasi moon named 2023FW13, discovered just last year.
The Story Behind Zoozve
Zoozve, designated initially as 2002VE, was discovered many years ago by astronomer Brian Skiff from the Lowell Observatory. However, its official naming journey took an unexpected turn. As with celestial bodies, Zoozve was not derived from mythological or literary references. Instead, it emerged from a case of mistaken identity.
The intriguing tale began when American podcaster Latif Nasser stumbled upon Zoozve while glancing at a solar system poster in his 2-year-old child’s bedroom. Surprised by the existence of a moon around Venus, a fact he was unaware of, Nasser embarked on an investigation. He reached out to contacts at NASA and even contacted the illustrators of the poster to unravel the mystery behind Zoozve.
The Illustrator’s Misreading
After careful examination, it was revealed that Zoozve was a misreading of the illustrator’s handwriting – ZOOZVE was an interpretation of 2002-VE. This discovery prompted Nasser to launch a campaign on his show Radiolab, produced at New York public radio station WYNC, advocating for the official adoption of Zoozve.
Approval by the IAU
Despite its unconventional origins, Zoozve captured the attention of the IAU’s Small Bodies Nomenclature working group. They approved the name in their latest bulletin with a touch of humor, cementing Zoozve’s place in the annals of celestial history.
The naming of Zoozve adds an intriguing entry to the celestial catalog and highlights the collaborative nature of astronomical research and the importance of public engagement in scientific endeavors. As Zoozve continues its journey alongside Venus, it serves as a reminder of the fascinating discoveries that await us in the cosmos.
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