Nah. Mars never did get as big as the Moon… back in August 2003 when it came within 35 million miles of Earth, its closest approach in 60,000 years. But now, every August, sure as the blackberries start ripening, the “Spectacular Mars” emails start circulating, and I hear from excited clients wondering how this whole Mars thing will affect them. The truth is that Mars draws close to Earth every two years and it was relatively closer in August 2003. I remember watching it from a lawn chair with a martini in hand. Mars hung low in the night sky, a fuzzy reddish-orange star. Even a second martini couldn’t grow it anywhere near the size of the Moon.
Mars rules action, aggression, and war. In March 2003 Bush invaded Iraq; in May he declared his mission accomplished; by August, as Mars stared down at us, the chaos was in full swing, remaining so even as Mars wheeled away. In August 2009, Mars is not so big. Sidling near Venus in the morning sky, he’s on the other side of the Sun and can’t be seen without a telescope. Still, I wonder about his annual August appearance now… in the faux solar system of the internet. Perhaps every year till we die we’ll see this breathless email in our inboxes: “No human alive will ever see Mars this big again!” What shall we do with it? See it as an opportunity to remember what horrors rash macho action can bring? Or simply observe how Mars is traveling through the culture? This year he seems to have mustered an army of angry (and insurance-industry-fueled) warriors who like to disrupt town meetings, shouting “Down with government health care!” But perhaps our internet Mars wants something grander. As the lion gives way to the grain goddess every August, maybe we could grow our inner warriors bigger than the confused child of our moons. Wouldn’t that be something… if we could use this internet Mars as a reminder to stand tall and fight for something truly awesome?
At the least, we can always learn more about the state of our inner Mars, which April Elliott Kent is facilitating this August with her “Mars Needs Women” research project. Learn more here (scroll down the page).