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View Full Version : No, Mars Won't Look as Big as the Moon in August



Fraser
2006-Jul-27, 07:11 PM
Have you gotten a copy of the email yet? If you haven't, you probably will. Forwarded from a friend, forwarded again and again until the original source is lost in the murky cloud of the Internet, it encourages you to get set for the experience of a lifetime. When MARS WILL LOOK AS LARGE AS THE FULL MOON!!!!! Is this going to happen? No. But there's a strange gem of truth at the heart of this misunderstanding/hoax. I'll give you the history and then everything you need to explain what's going on to your excited but misinformed email forwarding friends.

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2006/07/27/no-mars-wont-look-as-big-as-the-moon-in-august/)

ToSeek
2006-Jul-27, 09:52 PM
Should we have one of these notices in every forum? I think we've got most of them covered already. ;)

pantzov
2006-Jul-27, 10:34 PM
my dad sent me this one last year and i had to tell him the bad news that it was **.

has anyone seen the picture supposedly taken from the north pole looking south? you'd remeber this one if you had seen it. there is a picture of HUGE full moon with mountain ranges in the forground. mountain ranges at the north pole? yeah .. ok...

01101001
2006-Jul-27, 11:12 PM
has anyone seen the picture supposedly taken from the north pole looking south? you'd remeber this one if you had seen it. there is a picture of HUGE full moon with mountain ranges in the forground. mountain ranges at the north pole? yeah .. ok...
Debunked here: North Pole photo (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=37914)

Details at Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/photos/natural/northpole.asp).

pantzov
2006-Jul-28, 02:52 AM
hilarious! such feeble fakery.

Tobin Dax
2006-Jul-28, 05:04 AM
has anyone seen the picture supposedly taken from the north pole looking south?

There's really only two directions you can look at the North Pole: south and up. :)

skyeman1
2006-Jul-28, 11:04 AM
Besides, THIS time around, Mars is almost as far away from us as it can get -- it's almost exactly on the other side of the Sun right now.

Since we catch up to Mars every other year (just about), the odd years are when we're farthest from it. Since we were close in 2003, we were far in 2004, and that makes us far again in 2006.

InterPur
2006-Jul-28, 12:26 PM
Let's see...

240,000 x 4.167 approx. = 1 million and 34.5 million miles is the closest approach of Mars to Earth. And, 34.5 x 4.17 = 143.865. That means the closest approach mentioned in the article that Mars got to Earth is at least 144 times farther away than the Moon.

Not very close to the "90 times" as indicated in the article.

So, that begs the question, where did the writer learn math?

Regards,
InterPur

01101001
2006-Jul-28, 01:19 PM
So, that begs the question, where did the writer learn math?

Well, the computation was pretty good, dividing the 2003 Mars-Earth distance in miles by the rough Moon-Earth distance in km:

(34 646 418 miles) / (385 000 km) = 89.9906961 miles / km

But, the units leave a little to be desired.

Hamlet
2006-Jul-28, 01:31 PM
Besides, THIS time around, Mars is almost as far away from us as it can get -- it's almost exactly on the other side of the Sun right now.

Since we catch up to Mars every other year (just about), the odd years are when we're farthest from it. Since we were close in 2003, we were far in 2004, and that makes us far again in 2006.


You're quite right. Here is a graphic that shows the positions of the Earth and Mars on August 27, 2006 (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1000&vbody=1001&month=8&day=27&year=2006&hour=00&minute=00&fovmul=1&rfov=2.5&bfov=30&porbs=1&brite=1). You can see that Earth and Mars are pretty much on opposite sides of the Sun. On that date Mars will be about 240 million miles from Earth.

Mars' next closest approach to Earth is December 24, 2007 (http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=1000&vbody=1001&month=12&day=24&year=2007&hour=00&minute=00&fovmul=1&rfov=2.5&bfov=30&porbs=1&brite=1). On that date Mars will be about 55 million miles from Earth.

Quite a difference!

Fraser
2006-Jul-28, 02:40 PM
Oops, bad math. Thanks for catching that.

antoniseb
2006-Jul-28, 03:06 PM
Darn, I've been looking forward to it :)

ScarfaceEd
2006-Jul-28, 06:25 PM
Who forwarded that email? People who didn't read it?
"At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye."
To me there's no misunderstanding possible.

Pookie-Dot
2006-Jul-31, 04:24 PM
I didn't get the e-mail, but if it's completely fake then what WILL we see on August 27th? If Mars doesn't appear as big as the moon, then what will it look like?

Dave Burton
2006-Jul-31, 04:57 PM
Who forwarded that email? People who didn't read it?
"At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye."
To me there's no misunderstanding possible.
Ed, did you actually receive a copy of this chain email?

The version that I received didn't look like your quote. Instead, it had an oversized paragraph break between the word "magnification" and the word "Mars," so that the phrase "Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye" stood by itself as the first sentence in a paragraph. That phrase/sentence was also enlarged to headline size, and displayed in a contrasting color. So the email was plenty deceptive, and the deception was obviously intentional.

Here's a copy of the actual chain email that I received:
http://www.burtonsys.com/marshoax.html

Except for the colors, it looked similar to this:


Mars

The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!

This month the 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 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 it will rise in the east at 10p.m. 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.(Plus friends and
other relatives.)
NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN



See what I mean?

-Dave
dave421 at burtonsys dot com but please no spam

Hamlet
2006-Jul-31, 06:38 PM
I didn't get the e-mail, but if it's completely fake then what WILL we see on August 27th? If Mars doesn't appear as big as the moon, then what will it look like?

By August 27 Mars sets a little after sunset, so it's going to be very difficult to see at all. In any event, without a telescope Mars looks like a reddish point of light even at its closest approach.

ElWampa
2006-Jul-31, 07:23 PM
This is STILL floating around? WOW! Just wow.

tegwilym
2006-Jul-31, 10:23 PM
Gawd.....
I already saw one of those in my astro club emails. :neutral:

Jeffy
2006-Aug-02, 07:15 PM
I saw a martian yesterday. He was as big as the moon, at a modest 210 magnification.

Mellow
2006-Aug-03, 02:24 PM
yawn

NEOWatcher
2009-Apr-24, 08:31 PM
Might as well bump this thread, the title fits.

It's already on snopes for Aug 2009.

Mars Spectacular (http://www.snopes.com/science/astronomy/brightmars.asp)

Tobin Dax
2009-Apr-25, 03:05 AM
I had hoped this had died after not seeing a single email about it last year. :(

boppa
2009-Aug-14, 12:16 AM
How many people are getting this yet again....

altho there is a new twist, I've now got it from 3 people as a Powerpoint presentation
(I will admit its probably the first time many people have actually seen what Mars looks like, two of my friends had never seen a picture of Mars except as a `star'- 1 actually thought it was a star (sigh)

LaurelHS
2009-Aug-14, 12:53 AM
A lot of people have been asking about this on Yahoo Answers lately. One person even tried to blame Mars getting closer to Earth for the recent typhoon that hit China. I wonder if the phrase "not even wrong" applies here. :confused:

antoniseb
2009-Aug-14, 01:12 PM
What a pity that the original email didn't mention the year.

hhEb09'1
2009-Aug-14, 02:17 PM
I sent out the original email, and it included the date. AND it included a telescope. Obviously, some of my respondents didn't think they were important. :)

Don't forget, even in the year that this was appropriate, the mangled email still caused the same buzz.

DonM435
2009-Aug-14, 02:46 PM
Awhile back, I was wondering whether this might be true from the Martian point of view. Of course, if a Martain said "I wonder if the Earth at opposition will look as big as a full moon," the proper response would be: "Which moon?"

If I did the math correctly, Earth (radius 6,378.1 km) as seen from Mars under a close opposition (55 million km distant) would appear about 0.8 minutes in width.

The smaller, farther Martian moon, Deimos, is supposed to be 15 km on its longest diameter, and 23,460 km distant. I get 2.2 minutes of apparent width.

It would have been fun had that worked out, but, no, Earth doesn't quite make it. But under just 3X magnification, Earth would look as big as their smaller moon.

(Actually, both Earth and Deimos would be pretty close to starlike points, so one might not notice the difference.)