Can Zoozve Orbit BOTH the Sun and Venus? Oh, and What is Zoozve?

Rhett Allain
5 min readFeb 4, 2024
Image: Rhett Allain. A Web VPython model of Zoozve and Venus orbiting the Sun.

Have you heard the story of Zoozve — the moon of Venus that both is and is not a moon? Oh, you didn’t think Venus had a moon. That’s mostly correct. Here is a great thread about the moon of Venus. You need to read the whole thing because it’s pretty funny.

Here’s the short version of the story (but the full version is very fun). Basically he was looking at this illustration of the solar system which includes an object labeled zoozve as a moon of Venus. This is actually the object 2002-VE68 (which looks like zoozve if you squint). It’s a one of the many asteroids in our solar system.

The even more fun part is that zoozve is not considered a moon of Venus, but it’s also kind of a moon of Venus. It’s a quasi-satellite of Venus. This means that although it has a gravitational interaction with the Sun, it’s also influenced by Venus.

Of course OUR moon isn’t a quasi-moon, it pretty much stays in orbit around the Earth. However, the moon is also orbiting the Sun — you can’t neglect that interaction.

So, let’s explore the interaction of a sun-planet-moon system. It won’t be exactly the same as zoozve, but it will still be fun.

The Orbit of Venus

I’m going to start with a model of just the planet Venus and the Sun. Once we have that working, we can add in another object that will be similar to zoozve.

Here’s the basic plan:

  • Start with the Sun at the origin and Venus at some location with the correct distance from the Sun (0.73AU) with an initial velocity of 35 km/s. With these values Venus won’t have a perfectly circular orbit — because it doesn’t.
  • The motion of the planet can be broken into “short” time intervals over which we can assume the gravitational force is constant — this is the key to a numerical calculation. Oh, I’m going to use a short time interval of 1 hour.
  • Next, we can calculate the gravitational force on…

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Rhett Allain

Physics faculty, science blogger of all things geek. Technical Consultant for CBS MacGyver and MythBusters. WIRED blogger.