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Beware the Mars Hoax!

By: Babak A. Tafreshi

 

Region: Middle East

Site: Dasht-e Kavir - Iran

Spot: Maranjab

Date: 2010 August 24

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As seen on Astronomy Picture of the Day and National Geographic News when this clear summer night begins over sand dunes in the central desert of Iran, Venus, Mars and bright star Spica are seen in a triple conjunction form, while Saturn is lower just above the horizon clouds. Click on the constellation icon above the image to see the labels. The image is taken near date of the annually returning Mars Hoax on August 27. The hoax claims Mars will be as bright and as big the Full Moon this night. The apparent brightness of Mars in this image is just like a normal first magnitude star, and about 400,000 fainter than the Full Moon which is illuminating the landscape of this image from the other horizon. Even at its brightest and closest to Earth (around opposition times each tow years) Mars is still 10,000 times fainter than the Full Moon and 75 times smaller in our sky, because of its distance compared to our closest cosmic neighbor, the Moon. Learn more about the Mars Hoax on NASA, Wikipedia, and Sky&Telescope.

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