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Fraser
2007-Jul-25, 05:58 AM
Every year around this time, an email circulates across the Internet speculating that on August 27th, Mars will look as big as the Moon in the sky. And every year, I go ahead and debunk it. ...

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2007/07/25/will-the-mars-look-as-big-as-the-moon-on-august-27-nope/)

Kevn
2007-Jul-27, 06:26 PM
Yeah, I saw that a few weeks ago, and posted something on our club's blog (http://spacewatch.wordpress.com/2007/07/11/mars-hoax-2007/) for the local "uninformed" public. And I think just recently it's gotten more coverage, because today we have had a bunch of people just looking at that page on our site.

Sigh. Whomever is circulating this every year has less of a life than I do.

Cyber_I
2007-Jul-28, 12:58 AM
No it's true!!! My uncles friends brothers wifes sisters fathers cousin read a book one time and it's true!

Meatballs...all of them!

*shaking my head*

AlenK
2007-Aug-27, 02:40 PM
Fraser,

One of your points is that the original 2003 e-mail inserted an extra carriage return between "magnification" and "Mars," thus reinforcing the idea that Mars would look as big as the full moon to the naked eye (rather than having the same apparent diameter as seen through a telescope). You did not make this point in last year's rebuttal - in fact, your reproduction of the e-mail at that time did not show any break in the sentence. Did you just realize the significance of the line break or did some of the original e-mails have it while others did not? I'm interested in determining if part of the origination of the hoax can be traced to the introduction of this line break by someone who passed the original message on in 2003.

--------

3488
2007-Aug-27, 04:02 PM
Its a yearly Hoax since 2004. Mars did come closer than normal at the oppostion in August 2003 since September 12th, 57,617 BC & again until 29th August 2287, when Mars again will
blaze at magnitude -2.89 in Aquarius.

Andrew Brown.

01101001
2007-Aug-27, 04:30 PM
Did you just realize the significance of the line break or did some of the original e-mails have it while others did not?

I can't speak for Fraser, but I received versions of the email with many (not just one) extra blank lines there, and versions without.

Maybe they were inserted. Maybe they were there originally, and repaired.

Probably they got inserted, deliberately or accidentally. It's not natural for someone to write that way. Most of the actual content sounds like the sort of fun-fact that is originated and circulates innocently. I'd bet on an accidental change in form that made it easy to misread.


I'm interested in determining if part of the origination of the hoax can be traced to the introduction of this line break by someone who passed the original message on in 2003.

I've seen a lot of mangled formatting of text on the Net. It's very common.

How do you plan on finding the original?

Do let Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/science/mars.asp) know when you do.

John Mendenhall
2007-Aug-27, 04:50 PM
No it's true!!! My uncles friends brothers wifes sisters fathers cousin read a book one time and it's true!

That's my favorite citation.

AlenK
2007-Aug-27, 08:48 PM
How do you plan on finding the original?I wasn't actually planning on going that far. Besides, as this is an e-mail we're talking about I don't know how to go about doing that. However, just knowing that several slightly different versions were out there makes the supposition plausible.

01101001
2007-Aug-27, 09:51 PM
I wasn't actually planning on going that far. Besides, as this is an e-mail we're talking about I don't know how to go about doing that. However, just knowing that several slightly different versions were out there makes the supposition plausible.

Oh. OK. I thought that finding the definitive original might be difficult.

We couldn't be sure the first instance of the text was even email. It was probably summer 2003, given the subject, and could have been some Internet forum article, on some website, a Usenet article. Maybe it even first appeared in some print media, say a magazine. It probably got most spread, and mutated, via email. It probably got corrupted that way, and passed on, and it became more interesting, and altered, and cleaned up, and tweaked and revised. Finding its first public appearance might be hard. The original author might not even want to claim writing it, given what it has become.

I remember hearing about the Mars close approach in 2003, but I'd be surprised if it was a version of this text. The fact was something lots of people, at least lots of science and space reporters, mentioned. I think I first encountered the bogus story in 2004, when it was clearly wrong (to those of us who recalled the event in 2003). Little did I know then it would become an annual tradition.

And, I'm pretty sure about seeing a version in 2004 with the extra blank lines that made it easy to misread, but I couldn't swear to it, because the matter came back every year. It seems well before last year, at least. 2005?

It'll be back. Hooray, tradition!

Van Rijn
2007-Aug-28, 01:28 AM
I was the "computer virus czar" for my department for several years. A surprising amount of my time was taken up dealing with computer virus email hoaxes. The Good Times virus hoax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodtimes_virus)was one of the very early versions, but most other hoaxes were minor variations of Goodtimes, often with just a few words changed, like the name of the virus.

The hoax emails came in waves, every month or two, and I'd get many requests asking about the validity of the hoax. In one case, I was able to trace via email how a hoax had come into the department through one section, was distributed around, was sent to a friend in an outside organization, was sent around there, and then the hoax came back in to another section from somebody else in that outside organization, and again spread in the department from there.

Anyway, it was impossible to stop these things, and you could easily see the emails mutating as they went along. The same thing applies here. The best you can do is inform people about the hoax and ask that they not spread it around.

Occam
2007-Aug-28, 05:17 AM
August 27th, 2007 - Once In A Lifetime Event


No doubt last night you were one of the many millions around the world to view the astonishing sight of Mars appearing in our skies, as big as the Moon.

Remember, no one alive will ever see it again and the next occurrence won't happen for another 280 years!

All round the world, people looked to the skies as our regular Moon rose in the sky, followed closely by the red/orange disk of Mars.

The Auckland sky was particularly clear and I was able to take this amazing picture from my vantage point in North Head.

The photograph here is a 5 second exposure, from a tripod mounted Canon digital SLR with 300mm telephoto zoom.

The time is 11:45 pm and it clearly shows the unusual false sunset effect, caused by the orange glow of Mars.

I am looking forward to the lunar eclipse tonight, when Mars passes in front of the Moon.

01101001
2007-Aug-28, 05:30 AM
All round the world, people looked to the skies as our regular Moon rose in the sky, followed closely by the red/orange disk of Mars.

Something's wrong with that picture...

Aha! The moon is upside down. Nice try...

Occam
2007-Aug-28, 05:56 AM
Something's wrong with that picture...

Aha! The moon is upside down. Nice try...
Silly, I'm in the southern hemisphere, so not only is the Moon upside down but we're closer to the universe and can see planets better.

01101001
2007-Aug-28, 07:22 AM
Silly, I'm in the southern hemisphere, so not only is the Moon upside down but we're closer to the universe and can see planets better.

Check again. If you think the moon is right side up, then your city is built upside down, and the up-button would bring the down elevator, and nobody could get to work, and you'd all starve. Can't fool us.

Occam
2007-Aug-28, 08:16 AM
Check again. If you think the moon is right side up, then your city is built upside down, and the up-button would bring the down elevator, and nobody could get to work, and you'd all starve. Can't fool us.
Ah, so you know the place!

Spacemad
2007-Aug-28, 10:00 AM
Great try, Occam! You had us all fooled into thinking the Mars hoax was untrue! ;)

transreality
2007-Aug-28, 01:12 PM
During the lunar eclipse the moon looked like mars.

Chuck
2007-Aug-29, 05:41 AM
2003 was nothing. In the 1973 close approach, people over 6 feet tall had to duck.