Artist’s impression of the Mars Phoenix Lander on the Martian Surface, drawn by Corby Waste of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
I have been sent one of those emails that been forwarded so many times you really question its validity. Anyways this one is about the Moon and Mars and it reads: “Two moon on 27 August* *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 of 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. ” So my questions are: Is this true? And will Sydney get to see it?
This is the return of the dreaded Mars hoax email that seems to recur each year around this time. See last year’s discussion on this blog. As explained last year the email is a twisted description of the Mars opposition of 2003 when Mars certainly was impressively a bright red point of light in the sky and surface details could be discerned through a telescope. However, it certainly did not look like a second Moon!
In late August 2007 Mars will be rising an hour or so after midnight and will appear as a slightly reddish reasonably bright star-like object low in the east.
Much more interesting things are happening in relation to Mars. A major dust storm is affecting both Mars rovers currently active on Mars. At the location of the rover Opportunity the dust is dimming the intensity of the noon sunlight by 96% and has delayed the rover’s planned descent into Victoria Crater. Also NASA has just launched its Mars Phoenix lander. This will make the first ever landing in a polar area and a robotic arm will dig through the soil to the water ice underneath.