Monday, August 28, 2006

Mars is actually quite far away

Had you heard that yesterday Mars would appear closer than the Moon? That this was a once in a lifetime chance to see Mars upclose, which would not be repeated for decades and decades? My parents, along with millions of other email recipients, had. My poor dad even got the telescope ready!

So, if you peered up at the night sky last night and wondered why Mars didn't seem so big afterall, have solace that at least it wasn't because you were looking in the wrong place. This supposed phenomenon is simply not true. (Nor was it true in any of the previous years in which this email rumor circulated). Phil Plaitt helpfully explains in this article.

Phil runs a great site-- bad astronomy-- devoted to debunking myths, frauds, and bad science related to astronomy. And as an extra bonus, I listened to Phil (along with Cory Doctorow, and Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden and others) on an engaging panel about bloggers as public intellectuals at last week's WorldCon.

(And yes, I had a great time at WorldCon-- hopefully I'll get a chance to blog about it later)


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