The following chain letter has distributed across the internet since 2003, and regularly resurfaces towards the end of the month of August.
Although it is true that the planet Mars passed extraordinarily close to Earth in August 2003 (the closest the planets had been to each other for some 60,000
years) this is obviously not something which happens every year.
Mars will pass close to Earth in October 2005, but it will not be as close as the August 2003 incident.
Sophos advises that there is no purpose in distributing the chain letter, and it should be deleted.
The text of the chain letter reads as follows:
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 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 10p.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