The perennial Mars hoax e-mail
Every August e-mails circulate which suggest we are about to have a close encounter with Mars. The e-mails are a hoax, but they say something about our fascination with the Red Planet.
The e-mail seems to promise something truly remarkable.
It often starts: "The Red Planet is about to be spectacular."
It ends with the screaming caps: "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN."
The message tells of Mars being close to the earth on 27 August, close enough to be as big as the moon with the naked eye.
Sadly, in three weeks' time, on 27 August, Mars will be a long way away. But between then and now, astronomers will be bombarded with questions by curious punters about this close encounter.
"The e-mails and rumours go out every year but it isn't true. It's something we get asked in the planetarium a lot," says Dr Claire Bretherton, astronomy learning officer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. "I get e-mails from my friends to me to check whether it's true."
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