News Release: Research, Teaching

Jul. 27,  2009

August Rumor Swirls Around Mars

News Article ImageThe Red Planet

From eScienceCommons

Every year about this time, people say to me, 'Gee, I hear Mars is going to get really close to the Earth in August, and it will look as big as the moon,'" says Emory astronomer Horace Dale. "I wish there was something we could do to stamp out this rumor."

The annual Mars hoax began in 2003. In August of that year, the Red Planet came within 34 million miles of the Earth, which is pretty close, in astronomical terms -- and the closest it had been in more than 59,000 years. But even then, it only looked like a large, bright star to the naked eye.

"If you ever look up in the sky and Mars is the size of the moon, then something has seriously gone wrong with the laws of physics," Dale says.

Dale created a Mars Geocentric Distance Calculator. Read more about this calculator and what it does at eScienceCommons.


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