Monday, August 24, 2009

Don't Fall for the Mars Hoax

I don’t know if any of you have seen the e-mail about Mars this month, but I’m here to set the record straight... and save you some sleep. Ever since 2003, there’s been a circulation of hoax e-mails that come out every August, claiming that Mars will be the closest to Earth on Aug. 27 — and that it will be as big as the moon! Unfortunately, this is not true. 

In Aug. 2003, Mars was the closest to Earth that it could be in its 22-month orbit around the sun, and it actually was the closest it had been in more than 50,000 years. However, it looked like a red star, definitely not as big as the moon. It will never be able to look as big as the moon because it orbits the sun 1 1/2 times farther out than the Earth’s orbit. It only gets close to Earth every 26 months, when the two planets near opposition. The next time this will occur is in Jan. 2010, but it will be almost twice as far away as in Aug. 2003. So, if you want to get your telescopes out then, go for it. But this week, just get some extra shut eye on Thursday.

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