|Image Courtesy of James Bauer|
Cruithne’s orbit is also called a horseshoe orbit. In order to understand why it’s called a horseshoe orbit, let’s imagine we’re looking down at our solar system, spinning at the same rate as the Earth goes round the sun. From our perspective, the Earth appears stationary. A body on a simple horseshoe orbit around the Earth travels toward it, then goes round and moves away. Once it’s moved so far away it’s approaching Earth from the other side, it turns around and moves away again.
Horseshoe orbits are essentially quite mutual for moons in the solar system. What’s distinctive about Cruithne is how it trembles and sways along its horseshoe. If you look at Cruithne’s path in the solar system, it makes a disordered ring around Earth’s orbit, swaying so wide-ranging that it comes into the region of both Venus and Mars. Cruithne circles the sun about once a year, but it requires nearly 800 years to complete this confused ring shape orbit around the Earth. Learn more in the video below: