An asteroid is approaching, so I invited one of Earth's defenders to dinner - ZDNet
Feb 20, 2021 2 mins, 40 secs
Near-Earth Asteroid 99942 Apophis will be visible on Sunday.

Some say it could ultimately destroy satellites and spaceships.

The creators of the Unistellar eVscope telescope are trying to marshal our defense.

I'd seen this headline: "Help Defend the Planet by Detecting Infamous Asteroid Apophis!" and was naturally intrigued.

It's the creator of the eVscope, a digital telescope that has "unprecedented power and simplicity." If only America could claim the same.

That's when Near-Earth Asteroid 99942 Apophis passes in front of a star and is visible, so says the Observatoire de Paris, along a path traced from roughly the north-west to the south-east of the US.

Unistellar asks a disturbing question about this asteroid: "Will it destroy spacecraft and satellites, or make catastrophic, direct contact with Earth?".

And anyway, this potentially hazardous asteroid is supposed to come (vaguely) our way only in 2029.

But I wanted to see for myself whether this telescope could make a difference for people in spotting it on Sunday, just in case.

Franck Marchis if he'd perch himself on our deck, sip a glass of socially-distanced wine (Cabernet Franc, naturally), get something to eat and demonstrate the company's portable, digital telescope.

He set the telescope up within seeming seconds.

He toggled and the telescope obeyed.

The eVscope's makers make outlandish claims.

Unistellar says this portable thing is 100 times more powerful than a regular telescope.

You see, the clouds came over, but she still announced with a rare excitement: "I've just seen Orion's penis!" That, apparently, is how some astronomers mirthfully refer to Orion's nebula.

The eVscope pinpoints any object in the sky so that you can stare at it and realize just how insignificant a speck in the firmament you really are.

When I took a look through the viewfinder, I confess it was the sharpest and most imposing image I'd seen through a telescope.

Marchis what were the chances of Apophis bringing a little apocalypse to one or two satellites -- or even to our planet.

"We can't answer this until we have a refined orbit of Apophis," he told me.

"Currently its orbit places it inside the geosynchronous orbit, less than 36,000km from Earth, in 2029," he said.

"So it will cross this virtual sphere made of around 400 satellites twice.

However, its orbit is inclined away from the equator so the likelihood of an impact is small.

If its orbit is bringing it even closer to Earth, then the probability of impact will increase since we have more satellites at lower orbit.".

He's actually had an asteroid named after him.

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