The International Astronomical Union has confirmed a new name for the first ‘quasi moon’ in our solar system.
And it’s an unusual one – ‘Zoozve’ – so of course there’s a story behind it.
‘Zoozve’ is a quasi-moon, an asteroid that orbits the sun but alongside larger bodies – like planets.
Earth has a quasi-moon, 2023FW13, which was discovered last year.
Zoozve was found many years earlier – earning itself the official designation 2002VE.
You might have spotted the origin of its unusual name already.
Rather than being named for a mythological or literary figure, as so many space bodies are, Zoozve’s story is a case of mistaken identity.
It started when American podcaster, Latif Nasser, spotted it on a solar system poster he’d pinned to his 2-year-old child’s bedroom wall.
Having never heard of the moon, or that Venus even had one in orbit, Nasser began an investigation, including follow-ups with contacts at NASA and the poster’s illustrators. It turns out Zoozve was actually the illustrator’s misreading of their own handwriting:
ZOOZVE = 2002-VE
The object was originally found by astronomer Brian Skiff from the Lowell Observatory.
Nasser had since campaigned on his show Radiolab, produced at New York public radio station WYNC, to have the Zoozve name officially adopted.
The good folk at the IAU’s Small Bodies Nomenclature working group appear to at least have a sense of humour, approving the name in their latest bulletin.