Posted by: Christine Johnson | August 4, 2007

Beware the Mars Hoax!

I got this in my inbox from NASA. No, I am not so important that the head of NASA sends me email regularly; I signed up for educator emails, and this was one of them.

Space Weather News for August 4, 2007

BEWARE THE MARS HOAX: It’s August, which means it’s time for the annual Mars Hoax. An email is going around claiming that Mars will approach Earth on August 27th; the encounter will be so close, the email states, that Mars will rival the full Moon in size and brightness. (Imagine the tides!) Don’t believe it. The Mars Hoax email first appeared in 2003. On August 27th of that year, Mars really did come historically close to Earth. But the email’s claim that Mars would rival the Moon was grossly exaggerated. Every August since 2003, the email has staged a revival.
Here’s something that is true: Mars is having a close encounter with the Pleiades star cluster, easily seen in the eastern sky before sunrise. Especially good mornings to look are August 6th and 7th when the crescent Moon joins the planet and the cluster to form a pretty celestial triangle. Set your alarm!

[image courtesy of Astronomy Photo of the Day]


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