A SECTION of the Capital’s citizens was also taken in by the big celestial hoax - regarding Mars coming closest to Earth in the last 50,000 years - that was in circulation recently. Several residents actually made preparations to watch `Mars as big as moon’ on Sunday night and many of them approached the Regional Science Centre (RSC) here to have a `real good view’ of the `rare celestial event’.
While those who approached the RSC were informed about the information being a hoax, others who believed some newspaper and television reports regarding the close approach of Mars were quite disappointed. A cloud cover on sky, too prevented a good view of the night sky.
Education officer of the Regional Science Centre Vitthal Raigaonkar told Hindustan Times the close approach of Mars in year 2006 and particularly during August 2006 – with Sunday August 27 being the high point – was a total hoax that has been circulated in an e-mail on the Internet.
He said the last time Mars came closest to Earth (in recorded history) was in year 2003 and then too it never appeared as big as moon.
Eminent astronomy experts across the world have been giving clarifications regarding the Mars hoax during the past several days over the Internet and from other forum. These experts have clearly mentioned that the hoax was most deceptive and has been in circulation for the last few years – recurring always during months of July and August.
They said during entire 2006, Mars will remain an inconspicuous `yellowish star’ overshadowed by many brighter looking stars on sky.
In fact the Martian distance from Earth in August 2006 is about 150 million miles, a whopping 4.4 times farther than its close approach in 2003, thus making it 80 times dimmer than how it appeared in August 2003. Even then one needed to magnify Mars 75 times with a telescope.
Most importantly, Mars rises in morning during the entire August 2006 and not in evening and reaches its highest point in the sky during the afternoon and not in hours before dawn as is being circulated. Thus, there are no chances of any night viewing of Mars.
Raigaonkar said reports mention that Mars and Sun both are in Leo constellation leading to the unique celestial but they should remember that if Mars is in same constellation as Sun, it would rise and set along with Sun.