First off I was flicking through Google News when I spotted something about Mars, an article, on a news site... I can see other astronomers cringing.
CHENNAI: Sky gazers were treated to a rare celestial event as planet mars shone like a bright red ruby during its closest encounter with earth on Saturday night.
In a rare phenomenon, the red planet, which was in the constellation of Taurus, came to a distance of about 69 million km from the earth, making it visible with naked eye.
"It will take several years for mars to appear this bright again," scientists said. The Birla planetarium here made elaborate arrangements for the public to view the rare spectacle.
Oh jeez? Rare? Come on - it looks no different then any other time at opposition (every two and a bit years), Only a few of the largest telescopes in the world have the resolution to see any difference! "Closest encounter", it was actually closer in August 2003 then now, much closer, that's not all they go on to say it "came to a distance of about 69 million km from the earth, making it visible with naked eye", Mars is ALWAYS visible with the naked eye as long as it's not behind the Moon, the Sun, the ground or the clouds!
This wouldn't of been so bad if I didn't have a couple more e-mails from people via my old astronomy site asking if the e-mail doing the rounds (the same one that was sent around in August 2003 and August 2005 claiming Mars will be as big as a Full Moon) was true or not. It is true Mars is close at opposition - but it was only 1% closer then it was back in the 1971 - wow big deal, and it's further away this year then in 2003 anyway. Mars isn't zooming in close to the Earth and it's not as large as the Moon. It is however a worthy site and one I recommend everyone to go and look at look south, but it's not something that should be blown out of proportion by people in the media who are absolutely clueless.