The following email that I received certainly seems to suggest that the red planet, Mars, will be as close to earth as it ever will be (in our lifetimes) in August of this year –
The Red Planet is about to be spectacular in August of 2009!
This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter’s gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th 2009 when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification
Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye.
Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August 2009 it will rise in the east at 10 PM and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That’s pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month.
Share this with your children and grandchildren.
NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN
Sounds convincing doesn’t it, but I’ve already said that the above email is a hoax haven’t I?
The general detail of the email was indeed true back in 2003 which is when the message first started circulating around the internet.
In 2003 the distance between the Earth and Mars was a mere 56 million kilometres which is a safe distance.
Should Mars ever come close enough such that it appeared as large as the moon then we would be in serious trouble – the planet’s gravitational pull would likely have dire consequences, leading to high tides, flooding and who knows what else.
Be grateful that Mars will not get any closer this August!