The Red Planet is about to be Spectacular (again!)
Did you get the email about Mars saying it will soon be closer to Earth than ever before in recorded history in the next months?
Did the email say "Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history."
Well sorry to disappoint folks, but this Mars email is from 2003. And like most email warnings it is also a little distorted and exaggerated.
Some of you might still remember that this Mars apparition (when Mars was closest to Earth) actually happened two years ago. In August 2003 Mars came closer to Earth than ever before in recorded history.
Now please don't cry, because Mars is still making a very very good showing in 2005! The closest approach will be just after Halloween. It will almost be as good as in 2003.
The 2005-2006 apparition of Mars will be one of the most favorable of the twenty first century for two reasons: 1) Mars will be almost as close to Earth as it was in 2003, 2) Mars will be higher in our sky above the celestial equator. Astronomy enthusiast know what this means - they will have a better opportunity to see and enjoy Mars!
Why are we getting closer to Mars? Imagine a race track. If one car is closer to the center of the track and traveling faster, it will eventully catch up to and pass the outer car. This is what is happening with Earth and Mars, we are "lapping" Mars.