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Posted by john h on 8/25/03 at 18:20 (127956)

Tomorrow Mars will be closer to Earth than it has ever been for 30,000 years and it will be another 284 years before it is this close again. Look to your southeast and you cannot miss it. Since we are begining a New Moon (no moon) conditions are great to view it. Yes it is the red planet.

A recent study just completed on 24,000 boys and girls show the girls are 50% better than boys in writing. They gave the measure of what good writing is but it was to long to post here. They really do not know why this is so other than perhaps the boys are playing more sports. If me and Dr. Z are examples then I can believe it as we qualify as the worst spellers on the board. Barb our long gone Dr. Huey Lewi sure qualified as the best writer the board has seen.

Re: Mars

Kathy G on 8/25/03 at 18:36 (127959)

I've been checking out Mars every night since it's become visible. I also keep blaming everything that goes awry on the fact that those little Martians have probably jumped over and invaded the planet. It surely is as good an explaination, as any, for the power outage, the computer viruses, maybe even the rise in gas prices!

The teachers here will tell you, John, that they didn't have to do a study on that subject. Starting at the lower grade levels, the majority of the good writers are girls. I just happened to think. I wonder if there are more successful men or women authors? And does it vary from fiction to non-fiction? My guess is that more of the authors of non-fiction are male but I have no idea. As to the best authors, it would be interesting. I know that in the old days, they used to tell women to use pseudonyms so that no one would know that they were female, but those days are pretty much gone.


Re: Mars

Ed Davis,DPM on 8/25/03 at 18:45 (127960)

Here is the rest of the story... actually the day after tommorrow for the 'big' day....

Mars sparkles as a reddish-orange point of light over Poodle Rock at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Click through 20 years of the 'greatest hits' from the Red Planet.

Have a close encounter with Mars
Planet reaches its brightest point in recorded history Aug. 27

By Joe Rao

Aug. 19 Communicating with spacecraft at Mars always involves a wait. Depending on how far apart the planets are, it can take up to 21 minutes to get a signal from Earth to the Red Planet, resulting in a round-trip time of more than 40 minutes. The lag can be agonizing for an engineer trying to steer a surface probe or debug a software problem. On Aug. 27, when Mars is closer to Earth than ever in human history, the one-way travel time of light and radio signals will be just 3 minutes and 6 seconds.

ASTRONOMERS LOVE TO measure cosmic distances in light-years. In this case, you can think of the distance between the two planets as being 186 light-seconds.
Earthlings have an historic chance to see Mars at its brightest, and to see the Red Planet at any given instant as it existed just 186 seconds earlier in time.

Just look in the east-southeast sky on any clear evening soon after darkness falls and you'll see a fiery yellow-orange 'star' blazing brilliantly.

Named for the Roman god of war, Mars is often called the Red Planet. But anyone who takes even a casual glance will see that it's more like a yellowish orange the color of a dry desert under a high sun. Mars is much like a desert, in fact, dry and covered in sandlike dust. So a desert under the sun is exactly what you're looking at, since Mars is visible because of the sunlight it reflects our way.
From now into September, Mars shines with a topaz glow that is brighter than any other object in its region of the sky, except on those nights when the moon is in the general vicinity.
As with any unusually close approach of Mars to Earth, this one makes Mars appear exceptionally brilliant and indeed, from now into the early fall, Mars will easily outshine Sirius (the brightest of all stars) and even Jupiter (the planet normally second in brightness only to Venus).
Skywatchers should note, however, that to the naked eye Mars still appears as a point of light, not anything near as impressive as the moon. Telescopes are required to glimpse views of any features on the surface of Mars.

On Aug. 28, Mars will reach 'opposition,' the moment when the sun, Earth and Mars form a straight line in space, with Earth and Mars on the same side of the all-important star.
When a planet reaches opposition, it lies exactly opposite the sun in our sky: It rises at sunset, reaches its highest point in the sky at midnight, and sets at sunrise. To imagine this from above, envision the solar system as a giant racetrack. Earth is moving in the inner lane. Mars comes to opposition when the faster-moving Earth overtakes and passes the outer planet.

Mars comes to opposition about every 26 months. But because Earth and Mars both have elliptical orbits not quite circular no two oppositions are created equal.
This year's opposition is superior to all the others in nearly 60,000 years because Mars will be very near its closest point to the sun (perihelion) when coming to opposition. Such 'perihelic oppositions' of Mars are rather infrequent, occurring about every 15 to 17 years.
Recent perihelic oppositions saw Mars approach Earth to within 35.1 million miles in September 1956, 34.9 million miles in August 1971 and 36.5 million miles in September 1988.
Because Earth and Mars follow elliptical orbits around the sun, Mars' closest approach to Earth usually occurs several days before or after opposition. This year Mars arrives at perihelion just a scant 42 hours after its opposition.
So on Aug. 27, according to astronomer Myles Standish at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mars will come within 34,646,418 miles of Earth at 5:51 a.m. ET, which is just about as close as it can possibly come.
At that moment, it will then take a light beam 3 minutes and 6 seconds to cross the interplanetary gulf between Earth and Mars.
Things won't appear much different in the nights and mornings immediately surrounding that historic moment, so great observing can be done without worrying about the exact moment.
Opposition comes the following day, Aug. 28. The next opposition to bring Mars this close closer, actually will not occur until Aug. 29, 2287. The distance will be 34,603,170 miles.

Even after the main event this year, Mars' inevitable fade-down will initially be very slow and gradual.
In fact, it will still continue to shine at its absolute brightest magnitude of -2.9 through Sept. 2. (Astronomers use negative numbers on their scale of magnitude to denote the brightest objects.) Mars will still outshine Jupiter through Oct. 8. And it will continue to rival Sirius, the brightest of all stars, until Oct. 28.

The next opposition of Mars will come in early November 2005, but because Mars will then be more than 8 million miles farther from Earth than it is this month, it will appear to shine with just two-thirds of its peak 2003 radiance.
Interestingly, there is a long-term cycle of 79 years where the circumstances of any particular Mars opposition will replicate almost exactly.
On Aug. 22, 1924, for instance, Mars made nearly as close an approach to Earth as this year. In fact, at its closest in 1924 it was just 11,764 miles farther from Earth than it will be this Aug. 27. And 79 years from now, on Aug. 30, 2082, Mars will again make another exceptionally close approach to Earth, though again falling just short of matching this year's proximity, by 78,487 miles.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York. This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared Aug. 8.
2003 Space.com. All rights reserved.


Re: Mars

marie on 8/25/03 at 19:20 (127966)

Yes it is a sight. We got our first glimpse at mars last night. How long will it be visible?

Re: Mars

Dorothy on 8/25/03 at 20:37 (127980)

'Successful' as in best-selling/popular??

Re: Mars

Kathy G on 8/26/03 at 07:56 (128017)

Well, I was thinking that this is an impossible thing to figure. You can't go by best selling because of many reasons; first of all, many agree that some of today's best-selling authors aren't necessarily today's best authors, secondly, authors such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters, and their ilk didn't write in a time when books were widely purchased due to economic restrictions. You could keep going, back to Shakespeare. And then you could get bogged down with whether you want to include foreign authors of just Americans.

All in all it was a rhetorical question. I was just thinking out loud. Applaud me. I don't do it often! :D

Re: Mars

JudyS on 8/26/03 at 10:25 (128031)

=D> =D> =D> :)

Re: Mars

john h on 8/26/03 at 11:59 (128045)

Kathy: And who is the best selling author in the last 50 years? It is a she and she is a billionaire living in England. You left out one of my favorites in Agatha Christie.

Re: Mars

Peter R on 8/27/03 at 07:18 (128127)

I haven't seen it yet but the next time it gets this close to earth I'm going to go there.

Re: Mars

Carole C in NOLA on 8/27/03 at 07:38 (128129)

That has to be J.K.Rowling. (?)

Carole C

Re: Mars

john h on 8/27/03 at 09:40 (128137)

And J.K Rowling it is. Is there any author that has sold more books than her (excluding the Bible)?