Mars And The Moon: A Myth That Just Won’t Go Away

Dan Evon - Author

Aug. 27 2013, Updated 2:23 p.m. ET

If you’ve been on Facebook recently you’ve probably heard a little rumor about mars and the moon. It may even sound a little familiar. A hoax has popped up every August for the last decade or so claiming that mars will appear as large as the moon in the sky.

A message on Facebook has been shared more than 500,000 times claiming that mars will be so close to earth tonight that it will appear like there are two moons in the sky. But trust us, this isn’t true.

“August 27 at 00:30 Lift up your eyes and look up at the night sky. On this night, the planet Mars will pass just 34.65 million miles from the earth. To the naked eye it looks like two of the moon above the ground! The next time Mars will be so close to the Earth as much as in 2287.”

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According to Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait, the mars and the moon myth dates back to August 27, 2003, when the red planet really did appear particularly large in the sky. On that night, looking at mars through a simple telescope made it appear as large as the moon with the naked eye.

At the time, an image surfaced showing mars (as seen through a telescope) and the moon (as seen with the naked eye). The image showed that the two celestial bodies were about the same size and people just kind of ignored those words in parenthesis.

So now, every August, a photo pops up on the internet claiming something that is pretty much impossible.

Phil Plait writes at Bad Astronomy that this years Mars and the Moon hoax is particularly inaccurate since the red planet will be about 210 miles away from the earth.

Plait writes: “On Aug. 27, Mars won’t be anywhere near Earth; in fact it’ll be on the other side of the Sun, about as far away as it can be. Despite the Facebook claim, it won’t be 35 million miles from Earth; it’ll be 210 million miles (350 million kilometers), so tiny it will look like a dot even through big telescopes, with a size only about 0.2 percent as big as the Moon.”


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