Mars Hoax

****    Mars Hoax :: — Yet Again ****

It appears to be yearly ritual to ‘blindly’ forward email with subject header as ….

“Do not miss Mars will be closest to the Earth this year ”

And then the email that says..

“… I hear that on August 27, planet Mars will be closest to planet Earth and Mars will be in the size of a full moon for the naked eye ….

Nothing of the sort is going to talk place… EVER.

WHY is this mail, then?

The mail of this kind was first sent in 2003 when the Earth and Mars did come closest on August 27, that year.  On that day at 3:21 p.m. IST, the centre-to-centre distance between Earth and Mars was the shortest in about last 60,000 years and they will not be this close until 2287.

On 27th Aug 2003, the planets were a little more than 55.76 million kilometers apart. The last time they were this close was in 57,537 BCE.

It was immediately pointed out by various people (including myself) that Mars will not look as big as the Moon.

But in last ten years not only many versions of the above mail are circulated but different versions too, including graphics and power point presentations.

BUT THIS is a HOAX

Earth orbits inside the orbit of Mars. Every after 26 months (i.e. 2 years and 2 months) the Earth ‘over takes’ Mars. At that time the two planets are closest to each other.

The orbits of the planets are elliptical and not circular. The ‘closest distance’ between the planets, therefore, keep changing.  It ranges  from  about 54.6 million k.m. to 401 million k.m.

Well, even at the closest distance looking at Mars will be like looking at a cricket ball kept 6 kilometres away.

Finally the next closest distance between the Earth and Mars will be on April 14, 2014. On that day Mars will be about 92 million k.m. us.

I may point out that various space missions to Mars sent in such a way that the space craft reaches Mars when the distance between planets is shortest.

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About skytonight

I am the present Director of Nehru Planetarium of Nehru Centre Mumbai, India I like to talk about astronomy and sky observations to general public.
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