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Issue 160 - August, 2013 (2nd Edition) - Page 3

Mars, Earth - Closest Approach in Recorded History

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Outline
Message claims that Earth and Mars will have the closest approach in recorded history in August and will be a spectacular sight for stargazers.

Mars Hoax 2013

© Depositphotos.com/Martin Bech



Brief Analysis
The event described did occur back in 2003, but this message is now hopelessly outdated. No such close approach will occur in July or August 2013.

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Examples

Subject: FW: Mars

Enjoy!!!

Amazing

This is a 'truly once in a lifetime event' that will occur in August. View the attachment and mark it on your calendars. None of us will live long enough to ever have the chance to view this again. Enjoy!!

Mars Hoax 2013


(The message includes a slide show presentaion with the following text)

The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!

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 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.

NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN


Subject: Mars - August 27th must see

Get those telescopes out!

Something to look forward to this summer.

Mars


Image of Mars

The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!

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 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.

NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN

Detailed Analysis


A message that has circulated during July and August since 2005 is again hitting inboxes and social media feeds in 2013. The message informs recipients that the planet Mars will be passing very close to Earth in August. While this information was valid back in 2003, it is totally inaccurate for 2013. One of the 2013 incarnations of the hoax consists of a PowerPoint slide presentation that provides basically the same information as contained in the original email along with several more photographs of Mars.

Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

300
Claims that Mars will pass close to Earth in August 2013 are untrue
The year is not specifically mentioned in the message and a great many recipients therefore assume that the message refers to August, 2013. Virtually identical (and equally misleading) messages have circulated in July and August every year since 2005. The events outlined in the message were more or less true back in 2003 although they were a little hyped even then.

According to NASA, on August 27, 2003, Earth and Mars were the closest they have been for around 60,000 years. Mars was indeed a spectacular site in the night sky during several months of 2003.

However, this fact is not quite as earth shattering as you might think. A 2003 NASA article on the subject explains that:
Much has been made of the fact that the August 27th encounter with Mars is the closest in some 60,000 years. Neanderthals were the last to observe Mars so favorably placed. This is true. It's also a bit of hype. Mars and Earth have been almost this close many times in recent history.
In fact, during 2013, the view of Mars will be far less than "spectacular". Astronomy.com explains that, during most of 2013, mars will be an "inconspicuous reddish dot".

And nakedeyeplanets.com notes:

By late August 2013, when Mars is positioned around 36° West of the Sun, the planet has escaped the twilight and is rising in darkness from the entire Northern hemisphere. Mars also reaches its faintest magnitude of the 2013-15 apparition (+1.6) around this time before beginning to brighten again from early September.

The view of Mars from Southern hemisphere latitiudes is poor throughout most of 2013. From here, the shallow angle of the ecliptic to the Eastern horizon along this stretch of the zodiac results in the planet attaining a low altitude above the horizon as the dawn arrives. At latitude 45° South at the end of August, the planet is visible for just 40 minutes after rising. It disappears into the brightening twilight, having attained an altitude of only 5° above the horizon. Further North the visibility durations are only slightly better and the altitudes only slightly higher: one hour visibility duration and 10° altitude at 35° South; 1¼ hours visibility duration and 15° altitude at 25° South and 1½ hours visibility duration and 19° altitude at 15° South.

Thus, like the earlier incarnations of this hoax, the claims in the 2013 version are nonsense.

This message seems set to keep resurfacing every year and duping a whole new set of recipients into gazing rather fruitlessly at the night sky. But don't despair! Close encounters with Mars are not such uncommon events. The claim that "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN!" is misleading. It is true that the next time Mars will be as close to Earth as it was in 2003 will be on August 28, 2287. In the mean time however, there will be plenty of other close approaches, so our children and our children's children are not likely to miss out altogether.

Perhaps by 2287 some of our descendants will be observing the close encounter from the Martian perspective.


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Last updated: August 11, 2013
First published: June 14, 2005
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
2003 NASA Article: Approaching Mars
Sky Guide 2013
NakedEye Planets - Mars



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Issue 160 Start Menu

Pages in this issue:
  1. Hoax - 'Lawful Interception Recovery Fee' on AT&T Bill
  2. Cell Phone Photos Privacy Risk Warning
  3. Mars, Earth - Closest Approach in Recorded History
  4. Deaths From Free Perfume Samples Hoax
  5. Image of Dog Heads On Supermarket Shelf
  6. Has Sylvester Stallone Announced That He Has Surrendered His Life To Christ?
  7. 'Unclaimed Tesco Voucher' Phishing Scam
  8. Is Facebook Removing A Picture Depicting A Breast Cancer Survivor's Tattooed Chest?
  9. ATO Tax Refund Malware Emails
  10. Facebook Message Warns Cutest Baby Comp Images Being Used on Sex Slave Site
  11. Kidnapped Hakken Boys Are Now Home Safe and Well
  12. Message Warns Of Requests for Photos Of Babies With Nappies Open
  13. Six Flags Free Season Tickets Like-Farming Scam
  14. Boob Melons Hoax - 'Vietnamese Gourd or Pumpkin' Images
  15. Faux Images - Mermaid Skeleton
  16. A 'Yes' Vote in an Upcoming Australian Referendum Will NOT Result in Sharia Law Being Implemented
  17. Bank of America 'Transaction is Completed' Malware Emails
  18. WhatsApp 'Servers Really Full' Hoax
  19. Nichole Morgan Friend Request Hacker Hoax
  20. BT Yahoo! Mail 'Classic Version Closing' Phishing Scam
  21. X Factor Australia Like Farming Scam
  22. Giant Rabbit Photographs
  23. Costco Voucher Giveaway Like-Farming and Survey Scam