From where did this hoax about Mars looking like the moon arise?

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Offline chris

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There's an email circulating - and I've even been sent a powerpoint presentation this week - claiming that on August 27th Mars will pass very close to the Earth to the extent that it will appear as large as the Moon in the night sky.

This is obviously tripe. Mars in 35 million miles away and, at best, will be 1/140'th the diameter of the moon in the night sky. It's not even that close to Earth on August 27th.

So how did this rot arise?

Chris
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception - Groucho Marx

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Offline Geezer

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I first received an e-mail with something like that in 2003 when Mars and Earth were "only" 55 million km apart. I think it's being going the rounds in one form or another ever since.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force Šther.

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Offline LeeE

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I suspect this nonsense arose due to the simultaneous presence on Earth of both mischievous and gullible people.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline RD

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Quote
Mars, Earth - Closest Approach in Recorded History
Outline
Email claims that Earth and Mars will have the closest approach in recorded history in August and will be a spectacular sight for stargazers.

Brief Analysis
The event described did occur back in 2003, but this message is now hopelessly outdated. No such close approach will occur in July or August 2010.

http://www.hoax-slayer.com/mars-earth-close.html

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Offline JP

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Snopes has a possible explanation:
http://www.snopes.com/science/astronomy/brightmars.asp

One original email (from 2003, when Mars was close to the Earth), had the sentence
"At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye," but the email was often posted with a line break separating the part about magnification from "look as large as the full moon . . . "