Stop Dreaming, Sky Gazers. Mars Won’t be as Big as Moon on Friday
Yes, Mars is making its closest approach to Earth in 15 years over the next few days. But no, the red planet will not be as big as the moon in the night sky on 27 July, as a hoax article claims.
According to a viral scienceinfo.com article, this "exceptional phenomenon" of "two moons in the sky" last occurred 34,978 years ago. However, an AFP fact-check has called out the article as fake.
AFP notes that the hoax article speaks of an "apochromatic altazimutal velocity for which the cyclo-parabolic projection (adjusted Lambert benchmark) is affected by a singular analemmic anomaly modifying the apside line", which according to the fact-checking site is a "fundamentally nonsense sentence."
The reason behind the website having peddled false information could be because it is a "self-acclaimed" parody site, reports AFP. However, that has not stopped the article from garnering over 65,000 shares across the world, with several people on social media falling for the information, albeit false.
AFP further reports that this news had last surfaced in 2005 and 2009, following which NASA published articles requesting readers not to believe them.
The hoax is, however, partly based on the fact that Mars and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of the Earth on 27 July, Friday. Parts of the world will also see a total lunar eclipse on that day.
In 2003, Mars and Earth were the closest in nearly 60,000 years — 34.6 million miles (55.7 million kilometres). NASA said that won't happen again until 2287. The next close approach, meanwhile, in 2020, will be 38.6 million miles (62 million kilometers), according to NASA.
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