Mars as big as the Moon: it's baaaaack

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 19 2008 8:04 PM

Mars as big as the Moon: it's baaaaack

Like a cold sore, a relative who won't leave, or American Idol, the unwelcome "Mars is as big as the Moon" email is back once again to send nonsense into your mailbox.

First, the offending mail:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

Two moons on 27th August

Mars as big as the Moon picture, showing Saturn’s moons

27th Aug the Whole World is waiting for............. Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting August. It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will cultivate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles off earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Share this with your friends as NO ONE ALIVE TODAY will ever see it again.

Now, the trashing:

THIS EMAIL IS NOT TRUE. It's baloney, wrong, a lie, a con, a hoax, a joke, a falsehood.

Now, the specifics:

Oh, just go here and read about the last time I debunked this. Or the time before that. Or the time before that, or before that, or the original time back in 2000 and freakin' 3.

Criminy.

Look folks, Mars is on the other side of the Sun right now. On the date indicated in the email (Aug. 27), it'll be 360 million kilometers (about 215 million miles) from Earth. At its closest, Mars gets about 56 million kilometers (35 million miles) from the Earth, so this email is way, way off. Once again, like all the others before it (and all the ones to come, no doubt), they just keep replacing the date from last year's hoax with the current date.

In this version, though, there are two new things that I love for their ever-increasing dumbosity. One is that the term is "culminate", not "cultivate". We're not reaping Mars.

The other is the attached picture. It's not Mars and the Moon. It's two moons of Saturn. See the weird band shape along the bottom of the picture? Those are Saturn's rings! This picture was taken by Cassini, the spacecraft orbiting the ringed giant world, currently well over 1.5 billion kilometers away.

So once again the bar has been lowered by email hoaxers. And still, I have to wonder, how many people will be fooled by it?

Tip o' the spam filter to BABloggee David Roberts for being the first to send this to me.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.