Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mars and Earth and hoaxes

I came across the hoax email about Mars being closer to Earth than normal at a Retirement Village out in Mosgiel, where someone had printed it out and produced a number of copies for the old people. One old lady had apparently been out every night checking on Mars and its increasing size.

Of course, if you look at the picture that goes with the email, there's no way we could see Mars like this. It would have to be on top of the Earth virtually to be that visible, and of course, if it was, we wouldn't be here for long. In fact, we'd have been gone some time ago.

But hoaxes being what they are, it's easy to fall even for ones that basically make no sense. And when you did look out at the night sky certainly Mars was biggish, but hardly comparable to the Moon in size. Can you imagine Mars and the Moon being on a par with each other - now that would be incredible!

The gobbledygook in the email sounds very technical, and it's thrown in amongst the layman-type language to seem plausible: 'Mars will be easy to spot.' But Mars is always easy to spot - that's why the ancients knew about it. 'No human being has seen in recorded history.' Hmm, we have no real idea when Mars was last this close, since no one recorded it...!

And, as it turns out now, the two planets were actually closer in 2003 than they are on this trip. Oh, dear.
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