Pssst! Want some land cheap? Only 2 cents an acre. The purchase price is tax-deductible, and the view's out of this world.
If this sounds like the deal of a lifetime, talk to David Aguilar. As director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado, he will sell you a 1,000-acre plot on the slopes of Olympus Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system, for only $20. It just happens to be on the planet Mars.
''People have been selling stars for years. I wanted to do something different,'' explains Mr. Aguilar. Like most public institutions these days, planetariums are facing severe financial problems. The Mars Land Rush is Fiske's unique way of responding. And it seems to be catching on.
Although the land sale wasn't supposed to start until April 1, a member of the staff leaked news of the gimmick to a journalist writing about planetarium promotions. It was picked up by the wire services. Paul Harvey mentioned it on one of his nationally syndicated television shows. And Fiske has been besieged by calls and letters from around the world ever since.
In return for your donation you get: an official-looking Deed of Trust; a topographical map of Olympus Mons; a special spaceflight insurance policy; and, some ''Genuine Simulated Martian Soil.'' Minimum purchase is 1,000 acres.
''We are treating this totally tongue-in-cheek,'' the director confesses. The possibilities for satire are almost endless. Take, for instance, a few samples from the ''promotional flyer'' that the planetarium staff put together:
* ''This land steal features pink skies, unlimited rock gardens, and not one, but two moons. So peaceful, quiet, and romantic -- even the natives are friendly.''
* ''At one-sixth gravity of Earth, your golf game will improve immensely.''
* ''Be the first in your neighborhood to own a piece of the rock.''
* Your purchase is guaranteed ''free of mosquitoes and swamps.''