Has anybody been receiving e-mails from well-intentioned friends warning of the closest approach of Mars in the last 50,000 years, come August 27th? They also claim that Mars will appear as large as the full moon to the naked eye! Seems to me these e-mails are a tad late. But a number of acquaintances have passed them along to me anyway. What about you guys? David Vaughn
This "rumor" been making the rounds for some time now. The OP apparently mixed up the 2003 and 2005 Martian oppositions. The original message stated that Mars would appear as large as the Moon does to the naked-eye at a magnification of about 75x, which was correct for the 2003 opposition.
The original article did not state the year, only this year. Apparently some poor innocent fool found the article a few months ago and assumed it referred to 2005, not 2003. He must've e-mailed it excitedly to his friends. The internet grapevine became quite efficient. It's amazing how many people were mesmerized by the article, yet had forgotten that the information was highly publicized two years ago. The e-mail was sent to me in April by a friend who I thought was astronomically literate. As Mitsky well states, the correct original reference to a Full Moon became corrupted by some who tried to pass along the information. There was some actual misinformation in the original article, but of minor concern when considering it was directed toward the general public. The big mistake was not mentioning the year within the article.
The point to be learned from this episode is to verify any information you have received by e-mail before passing it along to others. It's especially easy to quickly hit the forward button when an article describes something you'd like to believe is true. You may only look foolish if you act hastily.
This Martian matter is of no great importance. It just points to some of the follies of human nature. I'd want to hope that less of this behavior occurs regarding more vital matters. But then I read about the countless unfounded tsunami warnings that have been circulated recently. I suppose that the amount of mutated information will continue to escalate as the internet becomes even more prevalent. Those who are wise will try to remain alert; most will not. :S