MARS AS BIG AS THE MOON!
Over the last few weeks we have recieve numerous queries and emails about the upcoming Mars Opposition. There are emails circulating the internet that Mars will be the closest in human history and that Mars will be as big as the Moon.
The emails sited are regurgated from the Mars Opposition of 2003, when Mars at opposition was closest in human history. It didn't look much different from other oppositions, but it was physically closest at that point. The original article stated that Mars through a large telescope would be about 1/2 degrees (magnified). The moon is about 1/2 degrees unmagnified. It sounds exciting but Mars will never appear as big as the moon in the sky. If it did we would be in REALLY BIG trouble.
The next Mars opposition will occur on Monday, December 24, 2007 12:27:17 GMT-0800 (PST) (Christmas Eve). This means that Mars should be in great position for viewing from from September 2007 to March 2008.
In a regular consumer telescope, Mars and the other planets can be best viewed between 100-200 power which will make it appear in the telescope about the size of a large pea. You should be able to see the Maria (light and dark areas on Mars) and the Mars polar ice cap at these magnifications. Color filters will also help. Orange and Red for the Maria and blue for the polar ice cap.
I suspect we will be seeing some mutated form of this email every 18-20 months when Mars nears opposition. You might want to visit here for more information.
I hope this explains everything. Best Regards.