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The motion of asteroid 3753 Cruithne

Earth's second Moon?



Markus Signitzer

December 2004



The peculiar path of near Earth asteroid 3753 Cruithne was revealed in a paper by Paul Wiegert, Kim Innanen and Seppo Mikkola published in Nature on June12, 1997. The aim of this project was to write a computer program based on initial conditions supplied by Paul Wiegert. The program should be able to simulate and visualize the orbit of Cruithne and allow to investigate the stability of the orbit.


The full Project Report can be found here:
http://www.markussignitzer.com/Solar/Cruithne Report.pdf

The full java documentation can be found here:


The applet used for visualizing Cruithne's orbit can be found here:





Some of the Results

1. Normal view of the Solar System:
At first glance Cruithne appears to be an ordinary asteroid. Its only remarkable feature,
    compared to that of other planets, is the high inclination of almost 20�.




2. But a more detailed analysis reveals that Cruithne and Earth are looked in a �1:1 Orbital Resonance�
    The resonance can be made visible observing Cruithne and Earth only once per year.
    The Graph below shows a "Stroboscopic view" of the Solar System:


3. Cruithne's orbit as observed from Earth:


4. Cruithne's orbit in an frame which co-rotates with Earth:

The obtained results agree qualitaivly with the results from Paul Wiegert's paper, but disagree on the orbital period
or Cruithne in the co-rotational frame. The orbital period should be ~385 years but is found to be ~285 years. Further
tests have to be carried out to find the mistake in the simulation software.

Thanks to Paul Wiegert for his advice and his patience!