Friday, October 09, 2020

so much confusion

The media really messes things up with astronomical events...

Super moons are not super.

Blue moons are not blue.

What the heck is a "Super Blue Blood Moon?" Please.

Penumbral lunar eclipses are very difficult to detect.

That newly discovered asteroid near the Earth is not going to kill us. Probably.

The next meteor shower is not the be all and end all. Also, meteor showers require dark skies and a lot of patience. Finally, they generally have a short or narrow window. The peak (and best showing) is for a few hours, usually after midnight. Essentially, one night only.

Mars is not as big as the Moon.

And planet oppositions, in contrast to meteor showers, are not one-night-only events.

inner solar system for October 2020

Mars is great right now. And it will be excellent for weeks. But slowly, over time, as the Earth pulls away, the Red Planet will get smaller and dimmer. 

Closest approach was 6 Oct 2020. Mars opposition will occur one week later.

The point is, Mars is very close to us now, so look while you can. But if you don't get a chance until next week, don't sweat it.

Jeepers. If you don't get any chances at all over the next month or so, fine, no worries. Mars will be back in about 2 years.

Some are saying that "if you miss it, you won't get another chance until 2035." False. Earth-Mars oppositions occur every 26 to 27 months. So the next close approach and opposition is around December 2022.

Earth and Mars close again in Dec 2022

The 2035 reference is that the Earth-Mars separation will be the same or less than now. In the winter of 2022, it won't be as good as what we're currently enjoying, but it will still be pretty awesome.

Half the time, a media piece is written by someone without the scientific background to understand many of the nuances. So, they should know to reach out to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Ask RASC. Or the Canadian Space Agency. Ask a specialist.

The other half of the time, they are just trying to sell more newspapers or drive more hits. So, reader beware.


Images made with SolarSystemScope. Not to scale.

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