It's that old? I still cannot believe this is being emailed out to people since it's inception. It's all bollocks, but hey, sometimes you do need a good laugh...well it was laughable in 2003. It's 2009! Now it's annoying. Andrew W has set up a Facebook group to End the Hoax
Here is what the original email looked like:
"The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles (55,763,108 km) of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN"
Please remember this statement:
At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye
No, Mars will not be the size of the full moon. It will look AT 75 Power in a quality telescope as if it were the size of the full moon. This would be called "apparent size". But that was in 2003. At oppostion in late 2009, it won't be anywhere near that big.
For an explanation of this from Sky and Telescope, go here.
Please try to understand that if Mars appeared like the full moon in the sky, we would probably be dead.