Posted by Lydia on August 29th, 2010
“… as large as the full moon … closest to Earth since (insert date) … will not be able to view again until the year (insert year) …”
The astronomy community has advised readers since 2004 of this erroneous post, yet every year it comes around again to fool readers into thinking Mars will be as bright as the Moon.
I can think of one positive thing about this silly falsity: it gets people outside at night to see if it is true.
My questions to the public:
1. Don’t you think that if an object in the sky was “as bright as the full Moon” you would be able to see it in the daytime as well as at night?
2. If there was an object as bright as this headed toward us, wouldn’t you be hugging your loved ones and asking forgiveness of those you may have wronged?
Let’s explore a few facts about Mars in reference to its proximity to our home planet.
Mars’s orbit brings it close to earth every two years. This year, however, is not one of them.
In 2003, Mars was 35 million miles (56 million kilometres) away from Earth, which was its closest in 60,000 years. It was 85 times brighter in comparison as viewed through a telescope, yet a far cry from “full Moon” brightness. Mars’s orbit brings it this close to us every 15 to 17 years and astronomers and those with telescopes get all warm and excited and send out notices for public viewing of this phenomena which is referred to as perihelic opposition. To the unaided eye, however, Mars appeared as a reddish hued star in the night sky and if you hadn’t known about it, the event would have gone unnoticed. In October 2005, Mars made another close approach and again in December 2007, albeit not as spectacular astronomically speaking, as the 2003 observing opportunity which we will have the chance to experience again in 2018.
Next year we will surely see the reappearance of the Mars hoax email. Now that you know the facts, please delete it, yet feel free to roam outside and enjoy our night sky at any time during the year.
4 people have commented
September 10th, 2010 @ 3:37 pm
Even my father in law, who used to work on satellites for the air force, fell for this.
September 17th, 2010 @ 7:56 pm
I am often asked about the Mars “news”
below is my response to it…
some comparison data…numbers are approximates,
the Moon is 1/4 the size of the Earth. Mars is 1/2 the size of Earth, or 2x the size of the Moon.
When viewing any object, if you double the distance, the apparent size is halved. (this holds true for ships, mountains or planets)
for Mars to appear the size of the moon, it would HAVE to be 500,000 miles from the Earth,
as it is Mars at its closest ever was more that 30,000,000 miles away (60x further)
another brief example…
the Sun is on avg 93,000,000 miles away…and is 400x the size of the Moon ~800,000 miles in diameter, during a total eclipse the Moon at 1/4 the size of the Earth and 250,000 miles away, just barely covers the Sun…
Space is beyond Vast!….grin
If anyone was in doubt, if Mars were to make such a close approach it would certainly cause huge tidal waves and general chaos all over the globe!
once..it was all abt aliens from mars and now it’s abt how close the mars could get…I think this will continue until there is a demystification process on progress everywhere…