18 June 2005

Mars Hoax - well kinda :)

Quote for the day:

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes"
Author
(1835 - 1910)

With my love of the stars and space this email caught me a little off guard when it arrived in my mail box this morning. The reason it caught me off guard is that I took great delight in standing outside in the summer of 2003 watching as Mars came within 35 million miles (or 56 million kilometers) of Earth, its nearest approach to us in almost 60,000 years.

our solar system
photo credit: Planet Scapes

As it turns out the email is a partial hoax. It is an article that was once true and is now being circulated again, long after the events it describes have come to pass. This article was applicable in 2003, but not now, two years later.

Here is the email as I received it:

“MARS SPECTACULAR!

The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification

Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.

By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your friends, children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN”

It is TRUE that Mars passed extraordinarily close to Earth in August 2003
It is FALSE that Mars will pass extraordinarily close to Earth in August 2005
It is TRUE that Mars will pass close to Earth in October 2005

For quick reference to email hoaxes check out: Snopes - Urban Legends Reference Pages

Mars links:

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