- First off: Mars will NOT be as big as the Moon this August (or any August).
- Secondly: Wouldn’t it be cool if it was? Well – it would look cool, but I’d be concerned about the gravitational effects on the Earth.
- Thirdly: Would you like something cool to look for this August instead? Something real? How about the Perseid Meteor Shower ? It peaks on August 12th, after midnight. Look Northeast. You can make as many wishes as you like on all those “shooting stars” – you could even wish for the Mars Hoax to come true, if you like.
- Lastly: If you’re bent on seeing Mars, wait until December 2009, and you’ll see it rising in the East mid-evening. It will look like a bright-ish slightly-orange star.
Here are some quickie details:
- Mars is at opposition with Earth (as close as we get) every 26 months.
- This hoax has been going around every August since 2003.
Curious about how that opposition slips against Earth years? Here’s a short overview courtesy of the Students of Exploration and Development of Space .
- In 2003 Mars was at opposition in August, and it WAS close, from an astronomical point of view. It wasn’t actually all that exciting for the average viewer.
- In 2004 Mars was not at opposition.
- In 2005 Mars was at opposition in early November.
- In 2006 Mars was not at opposition.
- In 2007 Mars was at opposition in late December.
- In 2008 Mars was not at opposition.
- In 2009 Mars will not be at opposition (this one slips to January 2010).
- In 2010 Mars will be at opposition in January.
Mars Hoax ’09
This year the e-mail is going around as a PowerPoint attachment, complete with all the PowerPoint bells and whistles you could ever wish to avoid.
This is the PowerPoint file if you really want to see it. I’m not sure I’d trust it to be virus-free if I were you, but I did scan it for viruses, and didn’t find anything: MARS.pps . If you’d rather not risk it – screen-shots of the slides without their animated glory follow.
Anyway, more info on the history of this hoax is here.
- My first post in 2007 
- My previous post in 2008  – this one includes some tips on explaining this to your friends and family when they send you this e-mail.
And some further links from other people:
- http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/news/marsattacks2005.html 
- http://www.snopes.com/science/mars.asp 
~ A l i c e !