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AAAA News and Activities 2003

The Mars Year - 2003
Mars Day on TV - KTVT CBS Channel 11, Dallas
Welcome to Wired News
Wired News: Spending Green to See Red Planet
Annular Eclipse - May 31, 2003
Lunar Eclipse - May 15, 2003
Transit of Mercury - May 7, 2003
Mid-America Astrophysics Conference

Mars Hoax
Star Parties
Member Activities
Observing Awards
Messier Marathon
Leonid Meteor Shower

Mars Day on TV - KTVT, CBS Channel 11, Dallas

Tracey Packard, Ed Flaspoehler
Michael Hill, Betty Nguyen
Click on images for enlarged view

AAAA President Ed Flaspoehler used up two thirds of his allotted fifteen minutes of fame by appearing on two 5-minute segments of KTVT Channel 11's Morning News on August 27, 2003. Ed appeared as representative of the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas, of which he is a member, promoting the club's scheduled Mars observing activities on Mars Day 2003.

"Many people seem to think you can only see Mars this evening," Ed told meteorologist Tracey Packard on the air, "but in fact Mars has been a spectacular object for the last month, and will continue to be spectacular in telescopes through the end of September. We hope everyone will come out to one of the TAS sponsored events at the campuses of the Dallas County Community College District, and see Mars for themselves!"

About his TV experience, Ed said the hardest part was getting up at 4:00 AM to be at the studio by 5:00. "The security was so high, I felt like I was breaking into prison, " Ed told KTVT news writer Kevin Davidson, after he had finally gotten through the gate. "There was no way to get in when I arrived, and I had to go find a pay phone before anyone would let me in!"

Thanks to Dave Hutchison and Joe Vines of Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas for arranging this interview, and to Ann Hatch of Dallas County Community College District for all the publicity she has set up for this month's Mars events.

KTVT Morning News Anchors Michael Hill and Betty Nguyen

KTVT Morning News Meteorologist
Tracey Packard

Camera Crew
in Action

Ed Flaspoehler and Tracey Packard with Meade LX-90 telescope

The KTVT Weather
Green Room

Dallas Sunrise
on Mars Day

AAAA Mars Card

The AAAA Mars Card is a concise way to learn the essential information about Mars during the current favorable opposition in August and September 2003. Just click on either image to down load our PDF, print it off, and make copies for yourself and to hand out at your own Mars Observing Events for friends and the general public!
Let Us Make the Photocopies!
Don't have time to make copies? Let us do the work for you. We will make copies at $10 per 100 postpaid, as many as you want, and send them to you via USPS Mail! Order online through CCNow, our Online Retailer. Canadian and overseas orders additional postage.

AAAA Mars Card: 100 for $10 ppd:


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Planning for the Public

During August 2003, Mars, the Red Planet, will be closer to Earth than it has ever been before in recorded history. On the date of closest approach, August 28, 2003, Mars will be only 55.8 million kilometers from Earth, little more than 1/3 of an Astronomical Unit (AU). An astronomical unit is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun, about 165 million kilometers. This will be the closest together Mars and Earth have been in the last 100,000 years!

In planning any special Mars observing activities for the general public or the media, keep in mind that in late August when Mars is closest (diameter about 25 arc sec), it will only rise about 30 degrees above the horizon at midnight ... so not good for "early evening" observing. However, this situation improves through September: at end of September, Mars will still be over 20 arc sec. in diameter, but will cross the meridian (a bit more than 30 degrees high) earlier ... about 9:30PM. This placement is somewhat better for public programs.

As always, there is the danger of planet-wide dust storms at this perihelion. Storm activity on Mars will easily wipe out any surface features otherwise visible.

The Planetary Society has proclaimed August 27, 2003, the date of opposition, as "Mars Day". The Planetary Society has a goal of "half of the world's population looking at, or thinking about, Mars" on Mars day. So please circle this day on your calendar. Now is the time to start planning Mars Parties in your local area.


The AAAA publication, 2003 - The Mars Year,  is a quick guide for those interested in observing Mars during the close apparition of August 2003. The  information it contains has been compiled from a variety of sources, and will help you both understand and observe Mars and its features during this favorable opposition.

The Mars Year:
$3.00 each


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 NASA Photo Mars 2001.

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