Look! Up In The Sky! It's A Hoax!
With Pluto having been recently kicked out as a planet from our solar system, I can understand the sudden surge of interest in astronomy. For those of you planning to stay up all night to view what has been purported to be one of the most exciting and spectacular events to happen in the sky in years, well, I'm sorry to burst your bubble as it is not true. Read all about it here.
There is an email circulating in cyberspace (I even got it from 7 friends this month!) saying that the red planet Mars will be exceptionally close today, 27 August (2006). According to one version "It will look like the Earth has two moons!" Once again, this is a good lesson in not believing everything on the Internet. The email is a hoax describing in a somewhat exaggerated fashion the events of 2003.
On August 27, 2003, Mars was only 55.8 million kilometres away - which is almost the closest possible distance it can be from Earth. To the unaided eye, it looked like a shining red beacon while through a telescope, a small red disc could be seen with some dark features visible. Above is a great picture of the planet by the Hubble Space Telescope taken on 27 August 2003. In late August this year (2006) Mars is faint and just visible after sunset low in the western sky. So there!
technorati tags: email hoax, hoax, astronomy, mars, pluto, Planets, Solar System, Space, Science