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

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 4:03 PM You’re Doing It Wrong: Puttanesca Sauce
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.