Once again an email circulates, with pictures, saying: “The Red Planet is about to be spectacular. Earth is catching up with Mars for the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history! On August 27th, to the naked eye, Mars will look as big as the Moon…”
It was wrong in 2003 when this garbage first got traction (because of poor media reporting and a confusion between size and brightness). It’s still wrong today.
Only today, not only is it wrong, it’s dangerous.
First off, if Mars ever looks to your naked eye as big as the Moon, and you’re not in a spacecraft a few days away from making a landing on the Red Planet, then start praying, fast. Either that, or just lay off the hallucinogens.
Apart from a telescope, or a serious, and fatal change in solar orbits, Mars WILL NEVER look to earthlings as big as our own Luna. Never. Never has. Never will.
NOW HERE’S THE DANGEROUS PART… This August, looking from Earth, Mars will be situated in the sky somewhat near to the Sun. If an unsuspecting soul tries to see Mars in the daytime by using a telescope, should they pan the sky a bit and hit the Sun, they may very easily, and immediately, suffer permanent blindness.
So either aggressively use the DELETE button on your email, or use the REPLY ALL option if you care to set this one right, and simply type in “WRONG”.