Yes, once again, it's time for the yearly Martian misunderstanding to start spilling into the email flow like the Nigerian royalty with their offshore Viagra savings account needing your life savings to make you rich and save the country from the latest operating system vulnerability attack on Tuesday.
Yes, I have to be nice about it since I'm the president of our astronomy club, but after I hit the [send] button, I'll have to grit my teeth and scream quietly - or loudly if there isn't anyone around.
Ok, here is the story. Back in 2003, Mars and Earth were making passing "close" to each other. No chance of collision or Marvin the Martian zapping the Earth to restore his view of Venus, but rather a measly 250 million km apart. That distance would happen on August 27th of that year. Sure, that's fine and we did have some good views.
The part that makes me scream is the badly written email that said "Mars will appear as big as the full moon". Arggh! NO!
Look through a telescope, see Mars and some details of the polar caps, clouds and surface features. Then look away from the scope and look at the moon. The moon without a scope, looked about the same size as Mars IN the scope magnified. Easy!
Forward every year since 2003, a sure sign of spring is when the emails start showing up again asking "are you having a special Mars party on August 27th? If so, what time?" Arggh! NO! That was 6 years ago, and it wasn't big.
Whew! Now that I got that off my mind, please pass this blog entry to all your friends and other readers. Don't ask me about it, it's not happening....then listen for a distant scream.