OT - Beware the Mars Hoax, Again!

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by SAPrius, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. SAPrius

    SAPrius New Member

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    Greetings from a PriusChat astronomer.

    It's back! Those crazy and goofy "Mars Hoax" emails are once more making the rounds on the Internet. Like last year, astronomers world-wide are receiving inquiries about the red planet. Apparently, the same email affectionately known as the "Mars Hoax", is again being circulated - the one announcing "Mars will be extremely close to Earth on August 27th, 2006." Actually, these "Mars Hoax" emails recount the close approach between Mars and the Earth that did take place in August, 2003. For some reason, uninformed sources are once more claiming that Mars will soon be "spectacular in the night sky." Not only are such emails wrong, they are three years out of date!

    In reality, Mars and Earth pass by one another every 2.13 years. In August 2003, the separation between the two planets was near historic minimums - 34,626,960 miles. The most recent "Martian" close approach took place on October 30th, 2005. Because of the elliptical nature of our two orbits, the distance between Earth and Mars on October 30, 2005 was 43,109,000 miles - almost 10 million miles further away than it was back in August of 2003. In fact, the record Mars encounter of 2003 will not be matched until 2287.

    Every year since that historical close approach, the "Mars Hoax" email annoyingly resurfaces. The only change to the "Mars Hoax" email is that the current year is inserted. Furthermore, it incorrectly states that on "August 27th, Mars will appear as big and bright as the full moon!" The email boldly declares, "No one alive will ever again see such a sight!" Sadly, such claims are not true, especially this time around.

    Mars is currently situated low in the western sky after sunset. The red planet is about as far from Earth as possible and its telescopic size is extremely small. In other words, our views of Mars right now are terrible and getting worse as we move into August. In fact, this August, Mars will be almost impossible to see. Mars will set soon after the Sun, its dim image all but swallowed by the sunset glow. Far from being at its best and brightest, in August, 2006, Mars is almost invisible in the sky!

    Should you receive such "goofy Mars emails", please ask the sender to provide you with correct and current information and not something that took place 3 years ago - information that the Pony Express could have delivered faster! The internet is a wonderful tool, but beware, not all that you read there is current or correct - except this article, of course! ;)

    Bob Kelley/SAPrius
    Scobee Planetarium Educational Specialist
    San Antonio College
    San Antonio, Texas
     
  2. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    i just got that email forwarded to me the other day from the exact same person who forwarded it to me last year... :rolleyes:

    thanks for the accurate info, i didn't know any of that!
     
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