SETI bioastro: FW: Roll Your Own Blackout and Watch Mars Rise at its Brightest!

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From: Larry Klaes (
Date: Fri Jun 15 2001 - 14:59:28 PDT

-----Original Message-----
From: David Grinspoon []
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2001 5:55 PM
Subject: Roll Your Own Blackout and Watch Mars Rise at its Brightest!

Roll Your Own Blackout and Watch Mars Rise at its Brightest!

By David Grinspoon

You have most likely heard about the "Roll Your Own Blackout" being
planned for June 21 as a protest against the Bush administration’s
short-sighted energy policies. (If not, see the message appended at the
bottom of this note - it has been reverberating around the internet for
several weeks.)

What you may not know is that this also presents a wonderful opportunity
to observe a rare and beautiful natural phenomenon. It just so happens
that right now, on our orbit, Earth is passing the planet Mars on the
inside lane. On the night of June 21 of this year Mars will be the
closest to us (42 million miles) and brightest that it has been in
thirteen years!

If enough people observe the voluntary blackout (from 7 p.m to 10 p.m.
in every time zone), then the extra darkness will have the side benefit
of enhancing Mars-viewing from everywhere on Earth.

So, turn off the lights and, as darkness comes, look to the Southeast.
Watch the bright red disk of Mars rise into the starry, moonless sky. A

pair of binoculars or telescope will come in handy, but the naked-eye
view should be gorgeous. By midnight, Mars will be high in the southern

As you gaze across the depths of space to our near planetary neighbor,
consider that the world you are watching is a frigid place of windblown
rusty, dust (hence the red color), a world where rivers ran billions of
years ago but have long since dried up and frozen over. This is an
extreme example of what can happen to a planet because of global
climate change, and should remind us of the preciousness of our warm,
wet, comfortable planetary home. The Earth’s habitability depends on a
climate balance of unknown fragility. Lets not push it!

On June 21, lets all turn off the lights and watch Mars rise.

(By the way, another peculiar thing about the blackout is that, if
enough people participate, the event will be visible from Mars if anyone
is watching. This reminds me of early schemes to try to communicate
with Martians. In the early 19th century Carl Friedrich Gauss proposed
planting vegetation in Siberia in a geometrical shape representing the
Pythagorean theorem, to show the Martians that there is intelligent life
on Earth. His contemporary Johann Joseph von Littrow suggested cutting
a giant circular or square canal in the Sahara, filling it with kerosene
and setting it ablaze to signal the Martians. Now we know that, due to
the very different climates of Mars and Earth and the geological
desolation of Mars, it is unlikely that anyone is there to receive our
signals. However, the picture of a rolling blackout passing slowly
across the twilight zone of Earth, as it would appear from Mars, is nice
to imagine…)

Original message follows:

7-10pm worldwide, all time zones

As an alternative to George W. Bush's energy policies and lack of
emphasis on efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels, there will
be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first day of summer, June 21 at
7pm - 10pm in any time zone (this will roll it across the planet).

Its a simple protest and a symbolic act. Turn out your lights from
7pm-10pm on June 21. Unplug whatever you can unplug in your house. Light
a candle to the Sungoddess, kiss and tell or not, take a stroll in the
dark, invent ghost stories, anything that's not electronic - have fun in
the dark.

Forward this email as widely as possible, to your government
representatives and environmental contacts.

David Grinspoon
Principal Scientist
Division of Space Sciences
Southwest Research Institute
1050 Walnut St., Suite 429
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 546-6863
(303) 546-9687 (FAX)

President and Rhythm Guitar Funky Science, Inc. 1836 Blake St., Suite 100A Denver, CO 80202 (303) 292-4853 Phone/FAX

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