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Mars Misinformation August 26, 2006

Posted by Admin in Astronomy, Science in the News.
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060826-mars.jpg

Did you get the email forward that’s going around? It says that tomorrow night (08/27), Mars will be so close to Earth that it will look as large and as brilliant as a full moon! The only problem: The forward is a hoax. Check out the NASA story about it:

If Mars ever came close enough to Earth to rival the Moon, it would alter Earth’s orbit and raise fantastic tides. Impossible: The orbits of Earth and Mars are too far apart. In fact, this month Mars is about as far from Earth as it can get: 385 million km, all the way on the other side of the Solar System.

This hoax has been going around for several years and makes its presence known every August as the 27th approaches. But that isn’t to say you shouldn’t go outside and look up on Sunday. Also taken from the NASA page:

If you want to see something truly astronomical on August 27th, wake up before dawn on Sunday and look east. Venus and Saturn are having a close encounter, as shown in the sky map, above. The two planets will be stationed less than half-a-degree apart in the rosy glow of the rising sun. Suggestion: Take your binoculars out with you. Venus is intense, but Saturn is easily lost in the brightening dawn. Binoculars help, and both planets can be seen at once through typical optics–very pretty.

The only problem with that? It will likely be cloudy here in Northeast Kansas. The weekend washout that began Friday evening (1.93″ of rain just during the overnight hours on Friday!) is likely to continue through the weekend, clouding the skies and reducing any chance we have at checking out the planetary alingment. But don’t fret – there will be many more chances to see the planets throughout the fall. When we begin the astronomy unit later in the Fall we’ll check out all the details.

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For more cool information about Mars:

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