This claim is circulating via email and social media, fully armed with a photo for “evidence”. NewsChannel 3 viewers are even asking about this “once in a lifetime experience”. Dee asked via wtkr.com, “I'm wondering if Myles knows anything about the "double moon" for Tues. Aug.27. It's the moon and Mars.”
Well Dee… I do know about the “double moon” and am happy to get to Take Action to sort out the details.
The claim that Mars will appear as big and bright as a full moon on August 27, 2013 is a hoax. Mars has never appeared as large as a full moon in Earth’s sky and never will. It all comes down to the numbers…
Let’s start with size. The Moon is about 2,000 miles in diameter. Mars is about twice as large, about 4,000 miles in diameter. The issue is the distance from Earth. The Moon is about 225,000 miles to 250,000 miles away from Earth, depending on the place in orbit. The closest Mars could ever get to Earth is about 34,000,000 (million) miles. So while Mars is twice as large, it is about 140 times farther away.
So how did this Double Moon rumor get started? It started with an actual event on August 27, 2003. That year, Earth and Mars came closer than they’d been in about 60,000 years. (less than 35 million miles apart) Was it a spectacular sight? Oh Yes! It looked like a dot of flame in the night sky. Was Mars as big and bright as the moon, even at its closest in 2003? No way! The email and photo are perpetuating a hoax that has reappeared every summer since then.
Bottom line: Mars will not appear as large as the full moon on August 27, 2013. Mars will not ever appear as large as a full moon in Earth’s sky. The email and social media claims are a hoax.
However, this month you can see Mars in the eastern sky during the hours before dawn. But it will always look like a star, nowhere near the size or brightness of a full moon.
-Meteorologist Myles Henderson