Bogus E-Mails Regarding Mars' Close Approach

Saturday, August 28 2010 @ 11:09 am EDT

Contributed by: bobmoody

Update: 6 YOU GOT IT! It's back once again
Update: 5 Yep, it's BAAAACK!

Mars Hoax rises Ugly, Gullible Head ONCE AGAIN for 2010! LOL...........It MUST be August!

Update 4: July 10, 2009.....and AGAIN, and AGAIN, AND AGAIN WHEN WILL IT END? Probably won't ever end as long as people don't think before they send misinformation on to others or to other groups. PLEASE READ AND SEND THIS ON TO SOMEONE EACH TIME YOU HEAR THIS HOAX.

UPDATE 3: August 3, 2007 AND.....HERE WE GO AGAIN! Will this crap NEVER END?

For the last FOUR years, this email has surfaced. Its a LIE!

UPDATE 2: August 15, 2006 Every August for the last three years, these crazy emails have started floating around, and people who simply don't know the difference just send them on to their circle of friends without ever trying to learn whether it's the truth they're sending, or whether its just more BOGUS EMAILS

UPDATE 1: AUGUST 10, 2005....The Astronomy Picture of the Day for August 8 echoes my article. They, too, wonder how people can believe these things. Check it out at:
Or what NASA Science News says at:

Have you received any email messages about a close approach of Mars?

(Originally posted Aug 2004)

How can people be so easily conned into thinking that Mars could EVER be seen as big as the Moon? It boggles my mind that anyone could do this, but sadly it's true. I have received essentially this same email 20 or more times in the last two years (now 3 years as of 08/15/06). It comes from friends and strangers alike. Those friends that understand that this is bogus laugh along with me, and those that don't know the difference we try our best to help them understand the truth about what's really happening.

On August 27, 2003, Mars came closer to Earth than it had been in nearly 60,000 years. At 4:51 am that Thursday morning, Mars had closed the distance to only 34,646,418 miles away from Earth. From that moment onward it began pulling away again. It had also been close in 2001, as well as in 1988, and 1971. To be completely accurate, Mars comes close to Earth about every two years, or every 25.6 months. Mars is coming close to Earth again this November 7th, (2004) when it'll be "only" a little over 43,000,000 miles away. It will be better positioned for northern hemisphere observers all winter long this time.
Mars and Earth both have elliptical orbits around the Sun. However, Earth's orbit is MUCH closer to being truly circular than Mars orbit, and due to this difference in our orbits we keep making these close approaches about every 780 days. This is something that can be called a cycle since it happens with a certain periodicity. We also share a couple other periodicities with Mars. There is a cycle that happens roughly every 15 years when we make an otherwise very close approach to Mars. Another little twist to this 15 year cycle concerns every third or fourth cycle when it's a 17 year period since the last close approach. There are other peculiarities about these cyclical orbital oddities that conspire to give us the rare passages like we had in 2003. But the record from 2003 will not be exceeded for 284 more years until 2287 A.D.!

We have an excellent book in the AOAS library called, "More Mathematical Astronomy Morsels", by Jean Meeus, the world renowned mathematician who tinkers with these ultra-precise measurements of all things astronomical. These complex mathematical formulas that describe the periodicities above may be viewed in his book which paid members may check out if anyone is interested.

But the whole point of this little story is to help everyone understand that when you receive another copy of this bogus and highly misinformed email, just reply to the sender and ask them to check out our website and this article. It's kind of funny, even silly to keep seeing this email message again and again, over and over, but it's a constant reminder of how many people don't understand what's going on in the solar system. This is a condition that AOAS is always trying to help remedy, and we hope that everyone will think of accessing our website for items regarding astronomical objects, reports and happenings. If we can't answer your questions immediately, we'll look up the answer and try to help you understand it for yourself as well.

Next time you hear this hoax, send this to your friends and associates. Check us out the next time you hear that Mars will be as "big as the Moon" or "closer than it's been in 50,000 years". It may just turn out to be total Toro-poopoo, and that's no bull! Aug 28 2010

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