Mars as big as the moon? Sorry, it's a hoax!

Mars

Planet Mars (Credit: NASA)

Moon

Moon (Credit: NASA)

Planet Mars will not appear as big as the Moon on August 27 of this year, nor on August 27, 2015, and not even on August 27, 2287.

A rumour that two moons will be shining on the night of August 27 has been resurfacing every summer for the past several years. This hoax usually circulates in the form of an e-mail entitled "Mars Spectacular" or "Two Moons on August 27." This message states that Mars will appear to be as large as the full Moon and that no one alive today will ever see this again.

The Mars hoax may have arisen in part because Mars appeared to be larger than usual on August 27, 2003, when it made its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years. Although the Red Planet appeared to be six times larger than usual at the time, its diameter was nowhere near to being as large as that of the Moon. Given the great distance between Earth and Mars, the Red Planet cannot possibly appear to be as big as the Moon, even when it is magnified by a telescope.