Posted tagged ‘hoax’

“I heard Mars is going to look as big as the Moon this August! Is that true?”

August 14, 2006

Sadly, no. This whole thing started as a hoax email in August 2003 when Mars did make its closest pass to the Earth in about 60,000 years. It was a clever hoax, with some truth in it, some obfuscation, and a few completely incorrect assertions. In my opinion, it was probably originally written by a well-meaning astronomy buff.

The happy truth is that Mars makes a close pass every 20 months or so. The next one is December 2007. Because Earth and Mars do not have perfectly concentric, circular orbits around the Sun, close passes (also known as Mars Oppositions) vary in distance. All Mars Oppositions are a special treat for backyard astronomers, and many are just a tiny bit farther away from us than the modern record.

Read a hoax rebuttal here in Sky & Astronomy.

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