Mars hoax circulates the internet

A Mars hoax has been circulating the internet, claiming that Mars and Earth will be in close proximity and that Mars will appear a similar size to a full moon. The hoax has been circulating on an email that reads: "the Red Planet is about to be spectacular… earth is catching up with Mars [for] the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history… on 27 August … Mars will look as large as the full moon".

There is some basis of truth, but the reality is not as spectacular. Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter this year on 30 October.

Mars will look like a bright red star, a pinprick of light, certainly not as wide as the full Moon.

Two years ago, on 27 August 2003 the closest encounter between the Earth and Mars occurred. To the casual observer, Mars will seem about as bright and beautiful in 2005 as it was in 2003.

Mars is visible to the naked eye in the early morning. Before the sun comes up, it's the brightest object in the eastern sky. If you have a telescope you can even catch its icy South Polar Cap, which shines brightly.