There is an email circulating in cyberspace saying that the red planet Mars will be exceptionally close on 27 August (2006). According to one version “It will look like the Earth has two moons”!!!
Once again this is a good lesson in not believing everything on the Internet. The email is a hoax describing in a somewhat exaggerated fashion the events of 2003. On 27 August 2003 Mars was only 55.8 million kilometres away which is almost the closest possible distance it can be from Earth. To the unaided eye it looked like a shining red beacon while through a telescope a small red disc could be seen with some dark features visible. Above is a great picture of the planet by the Hubble Space Telescope taken on 27 August 2003.
In late August this year (2006) Mars is faint and just visible after sunset low in the western sky.