Usually once a year, an e-mail gets circulated around claiming that on the night of August 27th, the planet Mars will appear in the sky as large as the Full Moon. Before you know it, "Mars Mania" becomes the talk of the town and everyone begins flooding the internet for more information about this once in a lifetime event. However, the truth must be revealed – it's a flat out hoax!
Mars will never come close enough to Earth in its orbit around the Sun to be viewed as large as the Full Moon from our vantage point. So how did "August 27" get chosen? Back on August 27, 2003, Mars did make a historical close pass by of Earth at about 34.6 million miles, but even back then, Mars appeared as a very bright reddish "star" and didn’t look at all like our own Full Moon in terms of size. The Mars hoax has been circulating ever since.
Mars is currently visible in the western sky at dusk as a faint star and sets about 90 minutes after the Sun. Nearby you’ll find a very brilliant "star" which is actually the planet Venus. If you’re interested in viewing Mars or Venus, Celestron offers a variety of different telescope models to choose from, including the LCM, AstroMaster and PowerSeeker series. Why not have a look at our closest celestial neighbors in the solar system and see for yourself tonight?