Fwd = [UASR]> Red Planet 'to spark UFO sightings'
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Originally from: Lieve <virginia@...>
Original Subject: [UASR]> Red Planet 'to spark UFO sightings'
Original Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 19:11:21 +0200
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[U A S R]> UFOs-, ALIENs-, SPACE- RESEARCH MAILING LIST <[U A S R]
Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Red Planet 'to spark UFO
Reports of UFO sightings are expected to rise
over the next few weeks as the planet Mars
passes close to the Earth.
Astronomers expect many skywatchers to
mistake the planet for some other unearthly
body, as it will appear as a bright red light
hovering over the tops of houses and trees.
On 13 June, Mars will be closer to the Earth
than it has been for two years - close enough
for the planet's polar ice caps to be seen
through a small telescope.
But leading astronomer
Sir Patrick Moore says
that although more
visible, Mars will still be
about 42 million miles
He told BBC Radio 4's
Today programme: "It
will be nice and bright,
low down in the sky after dark and it can look
like a bright red star - and it normally sparks a
new crop of flying saucers reports."
Michael Soper of Contact International, which
researches and monitors UFO sightings, agreed
there was a correlation between planet
activity and unusual sightings, but he disputed
that people could not tell the difference
between the two.
He told BBC News Online: "The two do go
"But we do not expect there to be a boost in
UFO sightings for another six months, which is
linked to a rapid decline in the number of sun
"The closeness of Mars used to produce more
UFO sightings in the 1950s and 60s, but less
For astronomy buffs, the approaching Mars will
appear quite low on the horizon in the
southern sky, between the constellations of
Scorpius and Sagittarius.
But a crystal clear night does not offer the
best conditions for observing the planet, say
Robin Scagell, vice president of the Society for
Popular Astronomy, says slightly misty weather
is better because it cancels out the
shimmering effect caused by temperature
He said: "You don't
need a big telescope. A
magnification of 40 or
50 will enable you to
see one of the polar
ice caps and dark
patches on the planet.
"Mars really does look
red, or rather a kind of
salmon pink. It's
caused by rusty dust.
Mars has a lot of iron in
its soil, which gives the whole planet this
For a really spectacular view of Mars,
however, it is best to wait until August 2003.
Then the planet will be closer to the Earth
than it has been for about 6,000 years - a
mere 34.8 million miles.
The European Mars Express mission is due to
be launched in 2003.
It will carry the mainly British Beagle II probe,
which will land on the planet to search for
evidence of water and other signs of life .
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