The quasi-satellite of Venus is named Zoozve due to poor handwriting

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has approved Zoozve as the name of the asteroid 2002 VE68, which is a quasi-satellite of Venus. The choice of such an unusual name is due to a curious story related to the illustrator’s bad handwriting.

Last year, writer Latif Nasser drew attention to a strange detail on a poster of the Solar System that hung in his son’s bedroom. According to him, Venus has a moon called Zoozve.

A poster of the Solar System with a moon of Venus called Zoozve. Source: Latif Nasser

Of course, Venus does not have a moon, as Nasser quickly became convinced by visiting the NASA website. After that, he Googled the word Zoozve and did not find a single match in English. This did not stop the writer. In an attempt to solve the mystery of Zoozve, he turned to his friend Liz Landau, who worked a lot with NASA, and also contacted the poster’s author, British illustrator Alex Foster. He admitted that he did not know much about astronomy, but swore that he had not invented this name and had definitely seen it in some list of moons.

Finally, Nasser got an answer. Liz Landau realized that Zoozve is actually the asteroid 2002 VE68, which is a quasi-satellite of Venus. In astronomy, this is what objects (usually asteroids) are called that are in 1:1 orbital resonance with a planet, which allows them to stay near it for many orbital periods. Quasi-satellites differ from real natural satellites in that their orbit is too far from the planet, and therefore is unstable. The gravity of the planet can’t hold a quasi-satellite. Because of this, over time, such bodies go into interplanetary space.

After this discovery, Foster confirmed that he most likely wrote out the asteroid’s number and then simply did not make out his own handwriting. As a result, 2002 VE turned into Zoozve.

After Nasser told about this funny story on social networks, he contacted the discoverer of the asteroid, Brian Skiff, and asked for permission to make Zoozve its official name. The astronomer agreed and sent a request to the IAU. The latter, in turn, did not object. So the quasi-satellite of Venus was named Zoozve.

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